- Fisher, Richardson, Watmore and Hunt return
- World-class teams on show at invitational tournament
England Women Sevens have made four changes to the squad that finished second at the IRB World Series round three in China last month for the Women’s International Invitational Tournament at the Marriott London Sevens on May 11-12.
Head Coach Barry Maddocks welcomes back Worcester duo Heather Fisher and Joanne Watmore, Richmond’s Alice Richardson and Lichfield’s Natasha Hunt for this world-class tournament that sits alongside the final round of the men’s HSBC World Series at Twickenham Stadium.
England will be captained by Wasps’ Michaela Staniford, with Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt named as vice-captain. England will take on the reigning world champions Australia as well as France and Spain in a tough pool while Canada, Russia, the USA and Ireland will all be vying to make the quarter-final stages in the other pool.
The pool matches and quarter-finals will take place on Twickenham’s Cardinal Vaughan pitches and the semi-finals and final will be played in Twickenham Stadium. With the RFU expecting a record-breaking 110,000 people passing through the turnstiles over the weekend, the stage is certainly set for an action-packed weekend of international sevens rugby.
Maddocks said: “It is great to welcome back the likes of Heather, Alice, Jo and Natasha for this tournament. Heather is an exceptionally good player and knows sevens rugby inside out. She knows exactly what her role is and what she has to bring to the table.
“Natasha played well in Houston and it will be good to have her back while both Jo and Alice are experienced sevens players who know what I expect of them. This is a strong squad but at the same time it is also good to know we also have several stand-out players who are not involved and who will still play a role in the remaining three tournaments of the season before the Rugby World Cup in June.”
England head into the London tournament ranked number one for June’s World Cup in Moscow and sitting second in the World Series behind New Zealand.
“This tournament is really important preparation for the World Cup,” Maddocks added. “All the teams competing in London will be at the World Cup so this tournament is going to be packed with world-class teams. Ireland, for example, ran New Zealand close and also defeated the Netherlands in China.
“We also can’t wait to be back playing at London. It was a successful hunting ground for us 12 months ago when we won the IRB Challenge Cup at Twickenham. It’s going to be great playing in front of a big home crowd again.”
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (VC) (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
Women’s Invitational Tournament at the Marriott London Sevens schedule:
10.28am England v France
1.30pm England v Spain
5.06pm England v Australia
9am QF1 Pool F 3 v Pool G 2
9.22am QF2 Pool F 2 v Pool G 3
9.44am QF3 Pool F 1 v Pool G 4
10.06am QF4 Pool F 4 v Pool G 1
11.12am Plate SF
11.34 Plate SF
12.11 SF Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
12.33 SF Winner QF 3 v Winner QF4
1.46pm Plate Final