- Maddocks makes seven changes as he rotates squad
- Staniford back to lead England
England Women’s Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made seven changes for the opening round of the European Sevens Series, which takes place in Brive on June 1-2.
Maddocks has named an experienced squad, which will be led by Wasps’ Michaela Staniford while he also recalls Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt and Natasha Hunt, Worcester trio Heather Fisher, Katherine Merchant and Joanne Watmore and Richmond’s Alice Richardson.
England head into the first of two rounds in the European Series as defending champions after they beat Spain in the final a year ago. Round two will take place in Marbella on June 15-16.
“This is a strong squad but the priority for me is not defending our title but rotating the team as we look to build the best squad we can for the Rugby World Cup in Moscow next month,” said Maddocks, whose team finished second in the inaugural World Series this season behind New Zealand.
“So many players have put their hands up for a place in that RWC squad over the last month that I am struggling to get what we have into 12 players. That of course is a good thing.”
England will take on Germany, Russia, Portugal, the Netherlands and Wales in the pool stages and Maddocks knows that to make the semi-finals his side will have to perform consistently in every game.
“Russia are the in form Sevens team in world rugby at the moment,” added Maddocks. “They are an extremely physical and athletic team who will provide us with a massive challenge. And they’ll be buoyed by their win against us in Amsterdam last weekend.
“The Netherlands will also be looking to bounce back from their disappointing performance at their home tournament while sides like Wales need no motivation to want to beat England. It’s certainly going to be another tough weekend of international rugby but that is exactly what we need ahead of the Rugby World Cup.”
Claire Allan Richmond)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Marlie Packer (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield) VC
Michaela Staniford (Wasps) C
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)