- Race for World Cup spots in full swing says the Wasps winger
- Maddocks names squad for London Sevens on April 29
England Women’s Sevens back Michaela Staniford is no stranger to international success with the 2012 IRB Women’s Player of the Year and Women’s Sevens Player of the Year just two of the trophies glittering on her mantelpiece. But now the 26-year-old is setting her sights on team success on the Sevens circuit.
With the increased player resources and contact time implemented by England Head Coach Barry Maddocks this season with an eye to the Women’s Sevens World Cup in Russia this June, the Wasps flyer says the benefits are obvious.
Staniford is one of 17 players currently training full time with Maddocks and looking to translate personal sacrifice and hard work into ultimate success at the World Cup.
Sitting second in the World Series standings – eight points adrift of leaders New Zealand – England have performed solidly to date this season, a run Staniford attributes directly to the increased time in camp. “Without a doubt we would definitely not be where we are now without those days together,” she said. “We went to Houston having trained together only three weeks and had some great success. We’ve improved upon our performances, we’ve had more people playing this year, more people put their hand up for selection, which has raised the whole standard.”
Maddock’s side won that tournament in the USA and with one round of the World Series left to play (Amsterdam, May 17-18) and only 12 spots on the plane to Moscow up for grabs, competition for places is fierce: “Competition is massive, absolutely massive and I really wouldn’t want to be Barry or Susie [Appleby] when they select the squad because it’s really competitive but that’s where we want to be and that’s what we need to go to the World Cup and do the best we can.
“We’re all fighting for that place in the 12 for the World Cup. Ultimately, it’s about June and these are all stepping stones to that point.”
Photo: Getty Images
Prior to the Amsterdam leg, Maddocks’ squad will be in action at the London Sevens on May 11-12. Staniford captained England to victory at Twickenham Stadium in 2012 and the memories from that occasion are still fresh. The Head Coach names his squad on Monday (April 29) for the invitational event, which will be held in conjunction with the Marriott London Sevens men’s tournament and England are placing equal emphasis on its importance as any of the World Series legs.
“London last year was wicked, the amount of support we got. We were one of the biggest crowds on the second day, in the final, which is something that’s really nice for the home crowd to see – England doing well and England females showing what we can do alongside the men, and doing it well. So putting a performance in and seeing that is something to be proud of as well.
“It was fantastic doing a lap of honour, the crowd were really receptive. It’s really humbling to know that we are actually being noticed and to have the opportunity to play on these pitches alongside the men, that’s really big for the women, to get that recognition because it doesn’t happen very often. Having that at home, on home soil where people can come watch us, it’s something that’s quite special for us.”
Tickets for Marriott London Sevens are available via RFU.com, priced at £25 for adults, £5 for juniors and £45 for weekend passes.
To keep up to date with the tournament and see exclusive content from our England Sevens teams, like our dedicated London Sevens Facebook page.