Abi Chamberlain to lead England in World Series Opener in Dubai.
England Women’s Sevens Head Coach Simon Middleton has announced his squad to compete in the opening round of the Sevens World Series in Dubai, December 4-5. England, who will be playing in their first tournament since winning the XVs Rugby World Cup in August and who now have 19 professional Sevens contracted players, will be led by skipper Abigail Chamberlain.
Chamberlain takes charge of an experienced squad, including vice-captain Rachael Burford and fellow World Cup winners Alexandra Matthews, Natasha Hunt, Danielle Waterman and Claire Allan. England finished fourth on the Sevens World Series circuit last season and they lifted the Plate crown in Dubai 11 months ago. This season has extra significance though as they are also representing Great Britain’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics Games. A top four finish will ensure qualification for the Rio Games.
“This has been an unbelievably difficult squad selection process but it has been for all the right reasons,” said Middleton. “All the players put their hands up in last week’s training tournament in France so really this squad came down to it offering us more choice when it comes to positional rotation. Dubai is a big tournament for us. Strategically, it is really important to get off on the right foot and establish ourselves as our final placing affects seeding for the following tournaments. In addition, Olympic qualification is inevitably a driving force of everything we are targeting this season.”
England’s new season kicks off with pool games against Fiji, Brazil and Canada before the knock out games commence on day two.
Middleton added: “I think we have got one of the toughest pools to be honest. Fiji won in Hong Kong recently, they are fantastic ball carriers and we know they are very dangerous from our experiences of playing them last season. Brazil are a developing nation full of energy while Canada are one of the best prepared teams in the world and I would say the toughest side we faced last season. It is going to be a very tough tournament.”
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond) C
Rachael Burford (Thurrock) VC
Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Leanne Riley (Saracens)
Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
Claire Allan (Richmond)
Joanne Watmore (Richmond)
England’s Dubai Playing Schedule:
Dec 4 (Times GMT)
8:50am England v Fiji
11:46am England v Brazil
2:42pm England v Canada