- England look to replicate Hong Kong success
- IRB Challenge Cup make its debut at the Marriott London Sevens
England Women’s Sevens captain Michaela Staniford says England will be looking to make it two wins from two at this weekend’s IRB Women’s Challenge Cup at the Marriott London Sevens (May 12-13), Twickenham.
Tickets are still available for the Marriott London 7s by calling 0844 847 2492 or buy tickets online.
England head into the tournament on the back of a thrilling 15-10 victory over world champions Australia in the final of Hong Kong, and with Head Coach Barry Maddocks naming a strong squad, boosted with a handful of Six Nations winners, the home side will be amongst the favourites to lift the crown again.
“We have reached the last two Challenge Cup finals but have only won one of them so the girls are not fully satisfied,” said the England skipper.
"Without a doubt this squad, which has been further strengthened after Hong Kong, have the ability to get to the final and win but we all know Sevens can be a brutal game. What may seem like a small error can easily be capitalised on by the opposition. We need to focus on our game and have the ability to perform game after game. Good teams win games, world class teams repeatedly win finals and that’s what we are aiming for.”
The third IRB-sanctioned tournament, which runs alongside the HSBC Sevens World Series, will see 12 invited teams from six continents compete for the prized Cup.
England's tough pool
Photo: Getty Images
Joining England in Pool A are South Africa, Kazakhstan and Olympic Games 2016 hosts Brazil. The pool games of the IRB Challenge Cup will be played on the neighboring Cardinal Vaughan pitches, with the semi-finals and final on the famous Twickenham pitch.
“This is another tough pool for England,” added Staniford, who plays her club rugby for Wasps. “South Africa are the team that jump out at me. They have been developing at an impressive rate over the past few years and definitely our toughest opponents in Dubai, where we only won by two points.
“Kazakhstan have a very athletic side with a fantastic work rate and a never die attitude which they demonstrated in the XVs World Cup in 2010. Sevens is certainly the perfect gamefor these girls who love to run with the ball. Like Kazakhstan, Brazil and England have not met on the Sevens circuit yet so we need to expect a very competitive pool stage for England.”
With the London Sevens last year attracting a record crowd of 100,000 people and this year’s 70s disco themed event set to be even bigger and better, Staniford is confident rugby fans will be in for another bumper weekend of high octane Sevens action.
She added: “We learnt very quickly in Dubai last year that the women’s international Sevens circuit is as competitive as the men’s World Series. Because of the increasing standard of skill and the ever growing conditioning focus, there will never be an 'easy' game. This was underlined in Hong Kong where the final came down to the last minute. I am expecting London to be just as close and thrilling to watch!”
Photo: Getty Images
England Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made a late change to his squad for London calling up Richmond’s Abigail Chamberlain in place of the injured Isabelle Noel Smith. Chamberlain was involved in England’s victory in Hong Kong.
Tickets are now available for the Marriott London Sevens weekend with weekend passes starting from £30, single day tickets from £18 and children’s tickets at £5 each day. Visit www.rfu.com/tickets or call 0844 847 2492. (Tickets are subject to availability and booking fees apply).
England Sevens Squad for Marriott London Sevens
Rachael Burford (Richmond)
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Sonia Green (Saracens)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Sarah McKenna (Wasps)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Bristol)