England's finest commit to Sevens

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 27 March 2013
 
 England's finest commit to Sevens
IRB Women's Player of the Year 2012 Michaela Staniford has well and truly caught the Sevens bug

After a slow start to their season in Dubai, England's women will be hoping they can pick up in Guangzhou where they left off in Houston.

Barry Maddocks' side beat Series leaders New Zealand twice en route to the Houston final, where they were too strong for hosts USA to clinch the second Cup of the season.

The change in fortunes had a lot to do with personnel, the cream of the country's talent made available to Maddocks in 2013 as they hunt down a Rugby World Cup Sevens crown in Moscow, and the Series title en route.  

"There was never any doubt that I was going to return to Sevens. I love Sevens," said IRB Women's Player of the Year, Michaela Staniford, one of many top players to have come back into the Sevens fold.

"Fifteens has been massive for our skill levels, for our fitness and for our rugby knowledge, but I enjoy Sevens.

"I enjoy the space, I enjoy the style of play and it's definitely something I'm going to focus on for the next six months."

Hugely competitive

The usual suspects have proved tough enough competition so far - Australia, Canada, USA and New Zealand all strong alongside fellow core team the Netherlands - but it has been the likes of Russia, Spain and South Africa whose performances have provided the Series with a real competitive edge.

That, in turn, has made competition for places even more pronounced across the board.

"Everyone wants to be involved in the Series and it's the year to do it," added Staniford.

"You look at the names in the New Zealand team, a lot of them have come across from the Tests in November. Canada have all been there at the highest level, people want to be involved.

"It's exciting, it's fast and it's elite so yes, it is very competitive."

Vital preparation for Moscow

Emily Scarratt will captain England in Guangzhou, where they will face hosts China, Houston runners-up USA and Series debutants Fiji in the pool stages.

“It's a refreshed squad from Houston and we are going without some of our big name players but we're welcoming back some huge experience in Rachael Burford and Claire Allan,” said Scarratt.

“I think we have a great combination between youth and experience and many players with a real hunger to prove themselves at the highest level.

“The last six weeks have been really physically demanding but training as a squad together has really pushed us as individuals and as a team to where we want to be.

“The Rugby World Cup Sevens is now only three months away and this weekend’s tournament is a vital part of our preparation for that tournament.”

Video: Story so far - 2012/13 Women's Sevens World Series

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Series Standings
TeamPts
1New ZealandNew Zealand76
2AustraliaAustralia74
3CanadaCanada64
4EnglandEngland46
RussiaRussia46
more
Photos
  • New Zealand win China Sevens
  • England - Plate Winners
  • Ireland - Bowl Winners