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England Women announce 7s RWC training squad

05 December 2012

  • New look training programme for England Women's Sevens
  • 17 players will focus on Sevens in 2013
England's Ruth Laybourn

Photo: Getty Images

An England Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens Training Squad has been announced consisting of 17 players who will spearhead England’s Rugby World Cup Sevens ambitions in 2013.

For the first time ever, a dedicated training squad, selected from the Elite Playing Squad (EPS), has been named six months out from the tournament, which will take place in Moscow from June 28-30. Starting in January, the squad will come together every week for training and they will also receive enhanced strength and conditioning, nutritional, lifestyle and sports psychologist support.

England Women’s Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks will lead the world cup training programme with assistant coach Susie Appleby, England Women’s EPS Coaches Gary Street and Graham Smith and other RFU National Academy Coaches.  

Nicky Ponsford, the RFU’s Head of Performance (Women), said: “The international women’s sevens game has grown enormously over the last two years with standards being driven higher and higher by the ever increasing number of countries playing the game.

“We had a great year last season winning the IRB Challenge Cup in Hong Kong and London, but to try to emulate those achievements we have committed to sevens as a priority leading into the 2013 RWC to give us the best possible chance of success.

“To do this we have implemented a training programme which is a change from our previous preparation programmes as we will be bringing the squad together for centralised training on a regular basis rather than just prior to tournaments.

“The players are not going full time but this shift means we will have regular weekly access to them. It’s a huge commitment from the players who are still amateur and will therefore still have to work, but at the same time it is testament to their characters and dedication that every player is excited about this programme. We also have to thank their employers for their continued cooperation.”

England Women's Sevens Coach Barry Maddocks

Photo: Getty Images

The England RWC Sevens Training Squad can boast a plethora of talent, with eight survivors from the RWC Sevens in 2009, where England won the Plate. These include Claire Allan, Margaret Alphonsi, Rachel Burford, Heather Fisher, Katherine Merchant, Alice Richardson, Michaela Staniford and Danielle Waterman.

Players such as Emily Scarratt, Joanne Watmore, Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson, who all impressed on the IRB Challenge Cup circuit last season, have also been included while England’s XVs Captain Katy McLean is also in the mix. Bristol’s Marlie Packer is the only player in this squad not to be capped at Sevens, but Packer’s explosive and mobile performances in XVs this season has earned her this call-up.

Sister Alexandra and Francesca Matthews are also included while Ruth Laybourn’s notable performance in Dubai last weekend in the opening round of the Sevens World Series sees her in the final 17.

Maddocks said: “I am really excited about this group of players and what they can bring as we prepare for the RWC Sevens. Myself and Susie Appleby know that we have got a lot of depth and experience in this squad, and that actually none of them will be able to take their place in the final 12-woman RWC squad for granted.

“At the same time it has also been incredibly hard to whittle this group down to just 17. There are many players out there who came so close to getting in and there have been some tough calls to make.

“All but one member of this squad has played Sevens for England, and several of them played on last season’s IRB Challenge Cup circuit which saw us win two out of the three tournaments. We know that this is a strong squad and with more access than ever to this group of players we hope to be real contenders in Moscow.”

England RWC Sevens Training Squad

Claire Allan (Richmond)
Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Fran Matthews (Richmond)
Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Danielle Waterman (Worcester)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Bristol)

IRB Women’s Sevens World Series & RWC Sevens

Round 1 – UAE: Dubai, November 30 – December 1, 2012 – 7he Sevens Stadium
Round 2 – USA: Houston, Texas, 1-2 February, 2013 - BBVA Compass Stadium
Round 3 – China: Guangzhou, 30-31 March 2013 - Guangzhou University Town Stadium
Round 4 – Netherlands: Amsterdam, 17-18 May 2013 - NRCA Stadium
RWC Sevens – Moscow – 28-30 June, 2013