Staniford eyes success with England Sevens
2012 was quite a year for Michaela Staniford.
Having played a key part in captaining England's successful campaign in Sevens, Staniford went on to play for the 15-a-side team in the 3-0 Test whitewash of world champions New Zealand and was subsequently named IRB Women's Player of the Year.
Having been singled out as 'best player' in the three IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup events in Dubai, Hong Kong and London last season, Staniford missed the first round of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series in Dubai in December, but is now back as part of a strong England women's Sevens squad.
That journey back in the Sevens fold will start with the second round of the Series in Houston, USA, this weekend. There England will be looking to get their World Series aspirations back on track in the six-month build-up to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow in June.
Here Staniford answers our questions about her life in rugby.
What was your first rugby experience?
I started rugby aged 13 at school in lessons, it was a compulsory sport in the curriculum. Before that point I hadn’t really seen any rugby or had any knowledge surrounding the game.
And your first match?
My first game of rugby was for Fullarians in Watford. I played second row. Useless in the scrum, I ran well with the ball and never played in the scrum again, fortunately.
When did you know that rugby was what you wanted to do?
I was part of the National Schools Sevens winning team when I was 15. A massive achievement for a state school team. We had a brilliant group of girls and I knew then that rugby would be a significant part of my life.
What do you like to eat before a match?
Hmmmmm, peanut butter and banana on toast, a toasted bagel or in a wrap. Very satisfying. Has to be crunchy peanut butter, though.
Which part of training do you dread the most?
Winter months, frozen grass, horizontal rain, mud that makes your boots 5kg heavier and having to do a repeated speed test on your own in the dark, listening out for the timer after a full day’s work.
I suppose those are the sessions that really count.
What do you like doing outside of rugby?
I really enjoy swimming, bikram yoga, live music and finding good places to eat.
Who are your sporting idols?
Will Greenwood - his attitude seem to always be positive and he played with a smile on his face. Susan Day - a female rugby legend who I watched with awe and who I later played with at Wasps and for England, including a Sevens and a Fifteens World Cup.
What is your favourite sporting memory?
I have two that really stand out. My first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2006 vs Ireland, my first game under floodlights and a brilliant team performance. And the Amsterdam Sevens 2009, my first taste of top end Rugby Sevens. A number of the current Sevens girls played as an invitational team v NZ Maori, Canada and USA, to name a few, and I can safely say I had never pushed my body that far and had never felt such pain after three minutes of rugby. Definitely an experience that has made me stronger.
What are you most looking forward to on this year's Series?
I’m most looking forward to playing regular Sevens, I love the game and can’t wait to have more of it throughout the season. Also playing international sides on a regular basis, it’s going to be really tough physically and mentally but I know all the England girls are looking forward to the opportunity to produce performance after performance.
Who do you think is going to win the first IRB Women's Sevens World Series?
I’d like to think England!
Video: Highlights, round 1 - Dubai
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