Michaela Staniford breaking through the Black Ferns' defence

England’s Women will take part in the first ever first ever IRB-sanctioned Women’s International Sevens tournament this week and co-captain Michaela Staniford is hoping she can take some of the success she’s tasted with England’s XVs this week over to Dubai.

Wasps wing Staniford has been a central figure in England’s XVs team defeating world champions New Zealand twice this week, but now she will miss England’s third and final test against the Black Ferns to spearhead England’s sevens campaign on Friday and Saturday.

Staniford, who will captain England Sevens with Saracens’ Sonia Green, said: “It has been quite an amazing week. I could only have dreamed that I would be heading to Dubai with a two test series win against the world champions under my belt. It would certainly be the icing on the cake if we could take some of that success into the tournament in Dubai.”

Staniford and Green will lead a relatively young side in Dubai with England’s coaches opting for development of players rather than experience as they look to the long term goals of the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Staniford is the only survivor of England’s 2009 RWC Sevens campaign, while Jennifer Brightmore, Sarah McKenna and Isabelle Noel Smith are the only other capped players in the squad.

“Really this tournament is all about development for us,” added Staniford. “Although we are going to Dubai to be as competitive as we possibly can be we are looking at the bigger picture. We have got a challenging pool and there are certainly going to be no easy games. We have got to expect the unexpected from China and South Africa as we know very little about them but we do know the Americans and I am sure they will be very athletic, strong and serious contenders.”

The Dubai IRB Sevens tournament will be integrated into the second round of the men’s HSBC Sevens World Series and will see some of the top women’s international teams go head-to-head. 2009 Rugby World Cup Plate champions England will join the likes of Sevens world champions Australia as well as South Africa, the USA, Canada, Brazil, China and Spain who’ll all be competing for the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup crown.

“This tournament is a major step forward for the women’s game,” added Staniford. “It is a fantastic step forward that the women’s game will be recognised alongside the men’s HSBC World Series and I am sure this can only help raise the profile of women’s rugby as a whole on the bigger stage.”

England Playing Schedule:
Friday, December 2nd
England v China
England v South Africa
England v USA

Saturday, December 3rd
Knock-out stages

England Squad
JennyBrightmore    (Worcester)
Abigail            Chamberlain (Richmond)
SoniaGreen (Saracens)
Sarah             Guest (Worcester)
Charlotte        Keane            (Worcester)
Sarah McKenna       (Wasps)
Sophie           Nicholas        (Richmond)
Isabelle          Noel-Smith    (Bristol)
Emily  Scott   (Thurrock)
Michaela        Staniford        (Wasps)
Lydia Thompson     (Worcester)
Joanne          Watmore        (Worcester)