England Women’s Sevens captain Michaela Staniford says England will
be looking to make it two wins from two at this weekend’s IRB Women’s Challenge Cup at the Marriott London Sevens (May 12-13), Twickenham.
England head into the tournament on the back of a thrilling 15-10 victory
over world champions Australia in the final of Hong Kong, and with Head
Coach Barry Maddocks naming a strong squad, boosted with a handful of Six
Nations winners, the home side will be amongst the favourites to lift the
“We have reached the last two Challenge Cup finals but have only won
one of them so the girls are not fully satisfied,” said the England
skipper. “Without a doubt this squad, which has been further
strengthened after Hong Kong, have the ability to get to the final and win
but we all know Sevens can be a brutal game. What may seem like a small
error can easily be capitalised on by the opposition. We need to focus on
our game and have the ability to perform game after game. Good teams win
games, world class teams repeatedly win finals and that’s what we are
The third IRB-sanctioned tournament, which runs alongside the HSBC Sevens
World Series, will see 12 invited teams from six continents compete for the
Joining England in Pool A are South Africa, Kazakhstan and Olympic Games
2016 hosts Brazil. The pool games of the IRB Challenge Cup will be
played on the neighboring Cardinal Vaughan pitches, with the semi-finals and
final on the famous Twickenham pitch.
“This is another tough pool for England,” added Staniford, who
plays her club rugby for Wasps. “South Africa are the team that jump
out at me. They have been developing at an impressive rate over the past few
years and definitely our toughest opponents in Dubai, where we only won by
“Kazakhstan have a very athletic side with a fantastic work rate and
a never die attitude which they demonstrated in the XVs World Cup in 2010.
Sevens is certainly the perfect game for these girls who love to run
with the ball. Like Kazakhstan, Brazil and England have not met on the
Sevens circuit yet so we need to expect a very competitive pool stage for
With the London Sevens last year attracting a record crowd of 100,000
people and this year’s 70s disco themed event set to be even
bigger and better, Staniford is confident rugby fans will be in for another
bumper weekend of high octane Sevens action.
She added: “We learnt very quickly in Dubai last year that the
women’s international Sevens circuit is as competitive as the
men’s World Series. Because of the increasing standard of skill and
the ever growing conditioning focus, there will never be an 'easy'
game. This was underlined in Hong Kong where the final came down to the last
minute. I am expecting London to be just as close and thrilling to
England Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made a late change to his squad for
London calling up Richmond’s Abigail Chamberlain in place of the
injured Isabelle Noel Smith. Chamberlain was involved in England’s
victory in Hong Kong.
Tickets are now available for the Marriott London Sevens weekend with
weekend passes starting from £30, single day tickets from £18
and children’s tickets at £5 each day. Visit
www.rfu.com/tickets or call 0844 847 2492. (Tickets are subject to
availability and booking fees apply)
photos Janos Schmidt