If England's women appeared at full strength in pipping Australia to victory in the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup in Hong Kong last month, they look set to mount an even sterner challenge on home soil in a few weeks time.
Twelve of the finest women's Sevens teams in the world will compete in the third edition of the Challenge Cup in London, alongside the Marriott London Sevens, on 12-13 May, and home coach Barry Maddocks has drafted in yet more experience.
Six Nations winners Emily Scarratt, Natasha Hunt and Katherine Merchant have all been added to the squad, joined by Sarah McKenna, who was part of the team that finished runners-up to Canada in the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup, in Dubai in December.
The group will again be captained by the outstanding Michaela Staniford and also features Joanne Watmore, who scored the winning try in the Hong Kong final.
"This is a really exciting squad that I believe has the ability to seriously challenge for the title in London. We have made some changes but we have been working on developing a wider Sevens squad," said Maddocks.
In a field comprising nations from six continents, England will host World Cup Sevens champions Australia, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, France, South Africa and Portugal.
“It is certainly going to be a tough tournament but an exciting one. The final between England and Australia in Hong Kong was a thrilling match and one that will be remembered for a long time, whilst Canada, who have had an impressive two years in Sevens, will be strong," Maddocks added.
Tickets are now available for the 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).
Highlights: Women's Challenge Cup - Hong Kong
England women's Sevens squad: Rachael Burford, Heather Fisher, Sonia Green, Natasha Hunt, Sarah McKenna, Katherine Merchant, Isabelle Noel-Smith, Alice Richardson, Emily Scarratt, Michaela Staniford (C), Joanne Watmore, Kay Wilson