England Women Sevens head coach James Bailey makes three changes to his 12 player squad for the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens series in Sydney 26-28 January (live on Sky Sports Action and live stream via WorldRugby.org).
Emily Scarratt, former Team GB captain and Rugby World Cup finalist, is named as captain. Fellow Team GB player Abbie Brown and Sarah McKenna are also named in the side, with both set to make their first appearances on the World Series this season.
England winger Jess Breach, who scored six tries on her international debut against Canada last year and recently transitioned into the sevens programme is also named.
Holly Aitchison makes her first appearance at a Sydney leg of the World Series alongside Deborah Fleming and Rugby World Cup finalists Alex Matthews and World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2017 nominee Lydia Thompson.
Team GB players Emily Scott, Amy Wilson Hardy and Heather Fisher are again included, having all played in the opening leg of the World Series last month.
England are drawn in Pool B and will kick off the opening day against USA, who placed second in Dubai, before facing current World Series title holders New Zealand and Japan.
James Bailey, England Women Sevens head coach said “We have a physical pool in Sydney with New Zealand, USA and Japan to play on day one. Every team will bring something different and it’s our job to recognise that and adapt, while still playing our own game and to our own strengths.
“This tournament format is unique with the team playing over three days. It’s something we have not done before, but a great opportunity for the team to show how they can adjust and also take learnings from the new tournament format.
“We learned a massive amount from the last leg of the World Series in Dubai. It was a great opportunity to benchmark where we are as a squad and what the tournament really highlighted was work-on areas, such as our conditioning levels.
“We always knew that with a lot of players transitioning back from 15s to sevens this was going to be an area of focus, especially considering the women’s sevens game has increased 150% in intensity over the past two years.
“The players have worked extremely hard over the past few weeks, we have gone back to basics with our skills work and really focussed on conditioning. I’m looking forward to seeing improvement in our performances in Sydney and for the team to use the opportunity to continue to develop.”
England finished tenth in last season’s HSBC Sydney Sevens, narrowly losing the Challenge Trophy 17-10 in extra time to Brazil. England are currently ranked 8th overall in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series standings
. Following on from Sydney the squad will compete in the inaugural Brisbane Super 7s invitational and will be joined by England Sevens player Katie Mason and Rugby World Cup finalists Natasha Hunt and Vicky Fleetwood.
Bailey added: “The invitational in Brisbane allows us to maximise our time in Australia by providing additional, quality playing opportunities. It’s also a great opportunity to give more players game time in a competitive tournament as we continue to build as a wider squad.”
England Women squad, Sydney
Emily Scarratt ©
Amy Wilson Hardy
Additional players to join Brisbane Super 7s Invitational
Schedule Pool B (all times local and games available via Sky Sports Action and WorldRugby.org)
v USA KO 10:44 (GMT 23:44 Thursday 25th January)
v New Zealand KO 13:50 (GMT 02:50am Friday 26th January)
v Japan KO 16:34 (GMT 05:34am Friday 26th January)