Photo: RFU Archive
The England Women’s Sevens squad to compete in the second IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup this season, in Hong Kong from March 23-24, has been announced.
Eight players who helped England reach the final of the inaugural Dubai Sevens Challenge Cup in December have been recalled while the likes of 2009 World Cup Sevens players, Heather Fisher and Alice Richardson, return from injury.
Wasps’ Michaela Staniford will captain England and she’ll be joined by Rachael Burford, Isabelle Noel Smith and Georgina Roberts, who have all been crucial in England’s RBS 6 Nations campaign this season, which sees England going into the final round this Saturday against Ireland on course for the Grand Slam.
England Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks said selection for Hong Kong had been difficult with so many players in contention.
"We have retained a core group of players to ensure we have consistency within our game whilst it’s also nice to welcome back players with so much experience, like Rachel Burford, Alice Richardson and Heather Fisher," he said.
Twelve teams will compete for glory in the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup with Canada, England, Australia and the USA the top four seeds respectively.
Olympic Games 2016 hosts Brazil, Asian Women’s Sevens champions China, the Netherlands and Dubai Plate winners Spain are seeded five to eight. Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 hosts Russia, Japan, Hong Kong and Tunisia complete the invitational line-up. England have been drawn in Pool B and will face Japan and China in the initial stages.
Maddocks added: “We played China in Dubai and they ran us close in the first game. They are a very organised team and they are not afraid to use their pace. Japan, meanwhile, look like a very organised side with some very quick and agile players.
“In Dubai we exceeded expectations by getting to the final. This time, we’ll be looking to first focus on our group and from there, if we are successful, to again be challengers in the main competition. We have not had much game time, unlike a lot of the other nations we’ll be up against, but we have prepared well and we head to Hong Kong in good shape.”
England Sevens Squad for Hong Kong
Rachael Burford (Richmond), Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), Heather Fisher (Worcester), Sonia Green (VC) (Saracens), Sarah Guest (Worcester), Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol), Alice Richardson (Richmond), Leanne Riley (Saracens), Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps), Lydia Thompson (Worcester), Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
Hong Kong IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup Schedule
Friday, 23rd March 2012, Hong Kong Football Club, Happy Valley
9:10am local time: England v China
11: 50am local time: England v Japan
14:00 Bowl SF 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
14:40 Plate SF 2nd Pool A v 2nd Pool B
15:00 Plate SF 2nd Pool C v 2nd Pool D
16.40 Bowl FINAL
Hong Kong Football Club – HK Stadium
18:12 PLATE Final, Hong Kong Football Club – HK Stadium
Saturday, 24th March 2012, Hong Kong Football Club – HK Stadium