New-look squad for England women's Sevens
England women’s Sevens head coach Barry Maddocks has named an exciting but inexperienced squad to compete in the opening round of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on November 30- December 1.
Abigail Chamberlain has been handed the captaincy and will lead a young England side, which includes new caps Fiona Davidson and Harriet Millar Maills but notably lacks the firepower of Michaela Staniford, Joanne Watmore, Alice Richardson, Kat Merchant, Emily Scarratt and Heather Fisher, all of whom impressed last season.
Those players have stayed in the UK to compete against the Black Ferns of New Zealand in a three-test Series.
"This tournament is a massive opportunity for several of our less experienced players to put their hats in the ring and show what they can do before a Rugby World Cup Sevens year in 2013," said Maddocks.
"We are trying to develop as much strength and depth across our Elite Playing Squad (EPS) as possible as that will be hugely important ahead of 2013 and 2014, for the Women’s fifteens World Cup.
“I am also delighted to be able to give Abi Chamberlain this captaincy opportunity, and Sarah Guest who I have named as vice-captain. As the more experienced players in the team I will be looking at them to show strong leadership qualities and help our less experienced players in this tournament.”
England, who won two out of three IRB Challenge Cup tournaments in the 2011/12 season, in Hong Kong and London, head Pool A and face three tough matches against Spain, South Africa and 2016 Olympic hosts, Brazil.
Defending Dubai champions Canada head Pool B and face matches on day one against recent champions of Oceania, New Zealand, round three hosts China and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 hosts, Russia.
Reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Australia will contest Pool C against two core sides set to host rounds of the Series, USA and Netherlands, as well as European powerhouse France.
“We have got a tough pool for sure," added Maddocks. "Playing the likes of Spain, who were easily the second best team in Europe last year is going to be a massive challenge in the group stages and South Africa are always very physical.
"This tournament is certainly going to be a challenge for us but it is one we are looking forward to.”
England Women Sevens squad: Natasha Brennan, Abigail Chamberlain (C), Sarah Guest (VC), Ruth Laybourn, Jane Leonard, Sarah McKenna, Isabelle Noel-Smith, Georgina Roberts, Leanne Riley, Emily Scott, Harriet Millar Mills, Fiona Davidson