A squad of 14 players have flown to Atlanta for the next two legs of the World Rugby HSBC Women’s Sevens Series which take place in Atlanta, USA and Langford, Canada.
The side will be looking to make amends after disappointing in Sao Paulo in February, where they finished seventh to drop two places in the overall series standings. However a tough draw in Pool A will see them face series leaders Australia first up.
Head Coach Simon Middleton said that the next two tournaments, which take place 8-9 and 16-17 April respectively, will play an important part in the side’s final preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.
“Atlanta is a fantastic draw for us with Australia as our first game. They’re a side we don’t play that often and if we want to improve, we need to be able to go out and beat those sides,” he said.
“We’re only going to get confident at beating them by playing them and that’s exactly the opportunity we’ve got in Atlanta. We’re in a good place mentally and physically to go out and give a good account of ourselves.”
Emily Scarratt returns to captain the side, while 19-year-old Abbie Brown, who made her series debut with two tries in Sao Paulo, is listed in a squad of familiar names.
Middleton added: “We fly 14 players out to Atlanta and then on to Langford. We have a lot of competition for places at the moment and tournaments of this level are few and far between in terms of preparing for Rio.
“It’s a double header which means we have a good opportunity to take a couple of extra bodies so that if we pick up injuries, we don’t have to fly people out and impact on their preparation. It also gives us a chance to rotate the squad between competitions and make sure we look at players who are very close to each other in terms of their individual performances.”
Reflecting on England’s performance in Sao Paulo, which saw the side drop from third to fifth in the World Series, he said:
“A lot has been done since Sao Paulo and the girls have learned a lot of lessons from there – mentally in terms of our approach as well as in terms of structure and how we want to play.
“We have been working hard in the meantime, and have had competition time against various teams in Las Vegas and Vancouver as well as Ireland down at our training ground at Surrey Sports Park. I think the main thing is about how we approach each game to make sure we treat each game on its merits, play to our standards, and how we want to play, more than anything else.”
All games are available to watch live via worldrugby.org while a live show will be broadcast on Sky for Sunday’s final games.
England pool games for Atlanta:
Australia v England (Friday 8 April) KO 6.14pm BST
Fiji v England (Friday 8 April) KO 9.20pm BST
England v Colombia (Saturday 9 April) KO 12.05am BST
Full list of pool games can be seen here.
England pool games for Langford:
To be confirmed.
England Sevens for Atlanta and Langford:
Alice Richardson (VC)
Emily Scarratt (C)
Amy Wilson Hardy
Report courtesy of England Rugby