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Rugby - 12. April 2008.

England Women to take on New Zealand at the Emirates Airline London Sevens

New Zealand are the world’s number one ranked team in the 15 aside game and their Aotearoa NZ Maori team also have a formidable record, winning the Hong Kong Sevens four years on the bounce.

England, who are ranked second in world rugby after their defeat to New Zealand in the 2006 IRB Rugby World Cup final, are stepping up their sevens campaign ahead of the 2009 IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens and the 2010 IRB Rugby World Cup.

The England Sevens squad are led by former England men’s sevens captain Simon Amor and he is assisted on the coaching side by former England Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday.

This year Amor will be taking England to the Amsterdam Sevens in May before the Emirates Airline London Sevens. They will then compete in the Home Nations Cup in Edinburgh in June and the European Sevens and South Africa Sevens in July and August.

Amor said: “I am delighted that we have got this opportunity to play the New Zealand Aotearoa Maori sevens team. To play a team that is billed as the best in the world is a fabulous opportunity for our players, as we look to build on our sevens programme. It is really important that we are playing quality opposition.

“It will be a massive game for the players. To be given the opportunity to play for your country is a big honour and challenge in itself, to then play New Zealand at Twickenham in front of a massive crowd is an even bigger occasion.

“Some of our players won’t have played in front of such a big crowd before so this is their opportunity to shine and also give the spectators an insight into women’s rugby and the high standard they are playing at. I am sure a lot of people will be shocked as to how good these players are and the quality of rugby they can play.”

England last played the New Zealand Aotearoa Maori sevens team in 2003 and lost 27-0 in the Hong Kong Sevens final.

The one-off England versus New Zealand match is one of just 44 sevens matches that will take place at Twickenham on the Emirates Airline London Sevens weekend on May 24th and 25th. There will be 16 other top international sides in action playing fast paced, thrilling and entertaining sevens rugby.

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