Dubai: England have named their squads for the opening round of the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai this weekend.
The men’s side, captained by Tom Mitchell, will play Samoa, Russia and New Zealand in Pool C this Friday. And the women’s team, skippered by Abbie Brown, will play Canada, Spain and Brazil in Pool C from Thursday.
Men’s head coach Simon Amor said: “It’s a very physical pool so we need to match that but be smart in playing to our strengths. The first tournament is always an interesting one as new coaches and players bring different styles and create unknown challenges.”
Ethan Waddleton, 19, who captained the England sevens academy side to victory in Singapore last month, has been recalled to the seniors after making his debut in Wellington last season and going onto play a further four tournaments.
“Ethan is a dynamic player, one of the stand-out academy players from last year, and he showed excellent leadership in captaining a young team in Singapore,” added Amor. “As he continues to build experience, we’re looking forward to seeing what he can offer alongside the seniors.”
England’s academy side will also be playing in the invitational tournament in Dubai registered as The Royals.
Meanwhile, the women’s team will see five Olympians feature in Dubai. They are; captain Abbie Brown, Heather Fisher, Alice Richardson, Jo Whatmore and Amy Wilson Hardy. There are also five newcomers in; Lauren Cattell, Deborah Fleming, Katie Mason, Kelly Smith and Millie Wood.
Women’s coach Simon Middleton said: “Our focus this season is very much to qualify for the 2018 World Cup through the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
“We have a mix of new players and returning Olympians in the squad. It is important that we invest game time with the new players as tournament experience is critical if we are going to be competitive on the world’s biggest stages down the line.”
Last season England men’s team finished eighth in the 10-stage world series, while the women’s team finished fourth in the six stage equivalent. England have won the men’s tournament in Dubai on four occasions but have never won the women’s tournament here.
England men’s squad
Richard de Carpentier
Tom Mitchell (C)
England women’s squad
Abbie Brown (C)
Amy Wilson Hardy