- Dubai hosts opening round of Sevens World Series
- England look to bounce back from RWC Sevens disappointments
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women Sevens captain Michaela Staniford is chomping at the bit for the start of the IRB Sevens World Series, which kicks off this Thursday in Dubai (Nov 28-29).
Wasps player Staniford last donned the England Sevens shirt at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow where England fell disappointingly short, finishing sixth. Now she will lead out a very different team in Dubai.
“I really am bursting to get back in that shirt and play some sevens,” said Staniford. “The RWC seems such a long time ago and we didn't get the result or performance we were capable of in June. Five months on and I know the whole team are ready to get back out there and play the game we love and to the England standard everyone expects.
“Dubai has always been a favourite for us and the teams are extremely well looked after and well received by a brilliant crowd. Having the men's and women’s World Series running alongside each other, I believe, really lifts the standard of our game as it’s such as inspiring atmosphere.”
Staniford is joined by Claire Allan and Rachael Burford as the only survivors from the RWC Sevens squad with England fielding some fresh faces for the opening round of the series.
Abigail Chamberlain and Kay Wilson are experienced on the World Series circuit but the like of Harriet Millar-Mills, Fiona Davidson, Leanne Riley and Amy Wilson-Hardy will offer some exciting fresh talent. Megan Ellery, meanwhile, will make her Sevens World Series debut whilst also joining her sibling Mike Ellery, who has been selected for the England Men’s squad.
“We have always had a good mix of ages and experience in the Sevens squad – it’s a great way to be exposed to top flight, pressured rugby. This year, again we have an exciting balance. We will aim to win each game as it comes, build on the performances and develop as a group. We also want to give ourselves the best possible start to the series as this is a busy year with the XVs RWC in August.”
Twelve international sides from across six continents will compete in Dubai, with England, New Zealand and Canada heading the three pools.
In Pool B England will open their campaign against Tunisia, after which they face Spain and Russia, who will be coming into the tournament on a high after a strong performance in front of their home crowd at the RWC Sevens.
England Sevens squad
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Natasha Brennan (Richmond)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock)
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)
Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Megan Ellery (Durham University & Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield)
Leanne Riley (Saracens)
Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps)
Kay Wilson (Bristol)
Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)
WSWS RND 1, Dubai, fixtures
Nov 28: England v Tunisia, KO 10.28am GMT
Nov 28: England v Spain, KO 1:26pm GMT
Nov 28: England v Russia, KO 4: 46pm
Nov 29: knock-out games, times TBC