- Scarratt captains England for the first time
- Allan, Burford, Thompson & Fran Matthews set to make World Series debut
Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt will captain England for the first time ever this weekend and she’ll be hoping to lead her country to victory in the third round of the IRB Sevens World Series in Guangzhou, China.
Scarratt, who is only 23 but has 43 caps in XVs and four Sevens caps, has been handed the captaincy armband for the penultimate round of the World Series. England currently sit third in the world series rankings behind New Zealand and Australia after a seventh-place finish in Dubai and winning in Houston.
“I am really excited and honoured to be captaining the side in China,” said Scarratt, who takes over as captain from Alice Richardson who led England to victory in Houston. “We are lucky to have so many natural leaders that all contribute in different ways. We are going into the tournament with a lot of confidence, but we know that we have a tough pool and we shall not be taking anything for granted.”
England Women Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made six changes to the team that lifted the Houston World Series round two title in February. Richmond duo Claire Allan and Fran Matthews, Thurrock’s Rachael Burford and Worcester’s Lydia Thompson are all set to make their World Series debuts. In the squad also are Wasps’ Natasha Brennan and Richmond’s Abigail Chamberlain, who both featured in the opening round of the World Series in Dubai.
Scarratt added: “It's a refreshed squad from Houston and we are going without some of our big name players but we're welcoming back some huge experience in Rachael Burford and Claire Allan. I think we have a great combination between youth and experience and many players with a real hunger to prove themselves at the highest level. It will be exciting to see Lydia Thompson and Natasha Brennan being given an opportunity to show their pace and it’s also great to see Fran and Alex Matthews playing alongside each other.
“The last six weeks have been really physically demanding but training as a squad together has really pushed us as individuals and as a team to where we want to be. The Rugby World Cup Sevens is now only three months away and this weekend’s tournament is a vital part of our preparation for that tournament.”
England will play hosts China, Houston finalists USA and World Series debutants Fiji in the pool stages in Guangzhou.
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Natasha Brennan (Wasps)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Emily Scarratt (C) (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (VC) (Wasps)
Lydia Thompson (Worcester)