- Staniford looking to impress home crowd
- England aiming for second Twickenham win
England Women’s Sevens captain Michaela Staniford says her team can’t wait to return to Twickenham this weekend (May 11-12) for the Women’s Invitational International Tournament at the Marriott London Sevens as they a target a second consecutive win at the Home of England Rugby.
Staniford led England to an IRB Challenge Cup victory 12 months ago when they defeated the Netherlands in the Twickenham final. Since then England have been competing in the World Series and they are currently second in the standings ahead of the final round on May 18-19 in Amsterdam.
“I’m pretty confident that everyone in our squad is looking forward to this event,” said the Wasps player. “The build-up has been fantastic and from a playing point of view, we want the opportunity to play at Twickenham again.
“Twickenham is always a special experience and one that we take a hell of a lot of pride in. Last year in the Marriott London Sevens the women’s final attracted one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. The home support is very humbling and we want to make the home supporters proud.”
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.
Staniford added: “We play three very different teams in our pool and we know that, no game is a given, no game is won easily and every game requires intensity, which will take its toll. France are typically very physical, Spain have a never-say-die attitude and fight every minute of every game while Australia have some fantastic ball players with exceptional flare. They are also teams we haven’t played a great deal so we will need to play well to beat them.”
With all the teams competing in London also in Rugby World Cup action in Moscow next month, the tournament will no doubt have some extra spice as well as giving rugby fans a taste of what is to come in Russia.
“Playing the top teams in the world is only going to improve our World Cup preparation; players learn so much and at a faster rate in these games. At the end of the day Moscow is where we want to be firing and this tournament will certainly help us get there.”
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)
Marriott London Sevens Women’s Invitational Tournament 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
11.34am: Plate SF
12.11pm: SF winner QF1 v winner QF2
12.33pm: SF winner QF 3 v winner QF4
1.46pm: Plate final