In his final assignment as England Women’s sevens head coach, James Bailey has made six changes to the side for the last round of the women’s 2019/18 HSBC World Sevens Series in Biarritz.
Citing a need for fresh energy, match sharpness and merit, Bailey has called up Katie Madison, Sydney Gregson and Beth Wilcox for their first appearances on the world series. Lizzie Adam and Emma Hardy, who were instrumental in Katakyushu where they won silver, are also in the squad while Claire Allen – who sat out the past two tournaments owing to injury – is back in form to captain the team in France.
England take on New Zealand, Russia and Scotland in Pool A of the Biarritz Sevens.
England Rugby quoted Bailey on their website as saying: “Selection has been looked at from an individual point of view. There are some players in need of match sharpness and some that could do with a refresh, so there are six changes to the squad for Biarritz.
“It’s also great to have Claire return from injury. I know she’s put a lot of effort to get back and will be looking forward t putting o an England shirt again and to captain the side out in France. She’s well respected within the squad and this is a great opportunity to see her step up and lead the side.”
As it stands England, sixth in the world series table, are locked out of the automatic Olympic qualifying spots and must use the European regional qualifiers in Kazan, Russia next month to reach Tokyo 2020.
“Our seasonal goal has always been to qualify for the Olympics. We’re going into a busy period now of four tournaments in six weeks. This means we need to be smart about how we manage the squad to ensure we peak at the right time,” said Bailey to England Rugby. “Biarritz offers another opportunity for us to grow as a squad and take another step in the right direction as we head into the key competitions over the next few weeks.”
Bailey will hand over the reins to former England sevens player Charlie Hayter next season.
England squad: Lizzie Adam, Claire Allan (skipper), Abi Burton, Heather Fisher, Deborah Fleming, Sydney Gregson, Emma Hardy, Megan Jones, Ellie Kildunne, Katie Mason, Celia Quansah, Beth Wilcock.
Main photo: Mike Lee – KLC fotos, World Rugby