- Barry Maddocks views London as key juncture on RWC path
- Fran Matthews replaces injured Alice Richardson in late change
England Women’s Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks has targeted the London Women’s Invitational Sevens this weekend as the key juncture on route to the Rugby World Cup Sevens this June.
While not part of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, the opportunity to once again lift a trophy in front of a huge Twickenham crowd elevates the London competition above next weekend’s final round of the series in Amsterdam in Maddocks’ thinking.
The tournament is being streamed live on RFU.com and Maddocks said: “This tournament is really important for us, we’ve looked at it and targeted it as an important stepping-stone to the world cup at the end of June.
“The players themselves are looking forward to playing at Twickenham in front of a home crowd, the sales have gone really well so there’ll be plenty of support for them.”
Photo: Getty Images
In a late change to his squad of 12, Richmond wing Fran Matthews has replaced domestic colleague Alice Richardson, who picked up an injury in training this week.
Having the option to bring in Matthews, who has 24 caps in XV’s and appeared at the China leg of the world series in March, is a sign of the strength in depth Maddocks has been able to work with this season.
The best female players in the country were withdrawn from the Six Nations campaign to focus on sevens with the ultimate aim of winning the world cup in Moscow and Maddocks outlined how tough it will be to squeeze his 17-strong training group into a squad of 12.
Hinting he will tweak his squad for Amsterdam to give all his players the chance to prove their value, Maddocks said: “It’s going to be tough as they’ve all trained extremely hard, it’s not just the 17 we’ve got an additional four or five outside of that who have also been training with us. This weekend gives them the opportunity [to lay down a marker]. We’ve told them all along that they’ll have that opportunity this weekend and next weekend.
“The added incentive in Amsterdam will be the chance to put a hand up for selection for that world cup group.”
England Sevens star Chris Cracknell has been working with Maddocks over the last few months to help the players get ready for the challenges ahead.
Maddocks hailed the impact of the 28 year old, who has been able to add the detail of 29 IRB World Series events to their preparations both on and off the field.
He added: “Chris is an experienced international, he’s been around for a number of years and has the little intricacies, the little bits that he can pass on to the players. He’s had an important impact on the group and it’s good to have another voice to help me out, the players have responded really well to his input.”
Watch the London Women's Invitational Sevens live on RFU.com from 10.28am on Saturday, May 11.
View the full tournament schedule on RFU.com.
England Women's Sevens squad for London
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Fran Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Emily Scarratt (VC) (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)