England Women have awarded 17 contracts to support the women’s sevens programme for the upcoming 2017/18 season.
All 17 contracts will be full-time and fixed term, running until end of the 2017/18 season.
Eight of the wider 14-player Team GB Olympic squad are named in the EPS including, England Women vice-captain and Team GB captain Emily Scarratt alongside fellow Olympians Abbie Brown, Heather Fisher and Claire Allan. Women's Rugby World Cup finalists and Olympic squad members, Natasha Hunt, Emily Scott, Amy Wilson Hardy and Megan Jones are also named.
Existing England Sevens players Chantelle Miell, Deborah Fleming, Holly Aitchison, Katie Mason and Millie Wood have also been awarded full-time sevens contracts. While England Sevens veterans Fran Matthews and Natasha Brennan have both retired from international sevens.
Women's Rugby World Cup finalists Vicky Fleetwood, Alex Matthews and Lydia Thompson, alongside Six Nations Grand Slam winner Sarah McKenna are also named as part of the sevens squad for next year.
The England Women sevens 17/18 season will consist of a number of major global tournaments, starting with the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series where England will compete across five stages worldwide, followed by the 2018 Commonwealth Games which is set to take place on the Gold Coast in April.
In the summer, England Women sevens will compete in the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series and having successfully secured qualification last season, the Rugby World Cup Sevens which will take place in San Francisco in July 2018.
Simon Amor, who was appointed Head of England Men’s and Women’s Sevens programmes earlier this year said: “Since the Rio Olympics 12 months ago the growth of the HSBC Women's Sevens Series has taken international women’s sevens to a completely different level. We are therefore under no illusions as to the challenge we face in reintegrating the World Cup players, getting them sevens fit and building the team, its culture and our systems of play in preparation for the start of the World Series”
“However we know we have an incredibly talented squad and with this season being an exceptionally exciting one for the women’s sevens game with both the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens, our focus will be driven around success at these major tournaments”
James Bailey, who will take up post as England Women's Sevens Head Coach added: “Last season enabled us to unearth new talent in the sevens programme and crucially allow younger players gain invaluable playing experience in major tournaments such as HSBC Women's Sevens Series. We are looking forward to continuing to build on performances from last season and bring this talented group together and start preparations for what will be an exciting season for sevens.”
Bailey also added: “To the players who have retired from sevens, we wish them all the best in their next endeavours, they have been fantastic ambassadors and role models for the sport over the past number of years.”
England Women's Sevens squad will continue to be based and train in Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.
England Women full-time sevens contracts - 17
- Abbie Brown
- Alex Matthews
- Amy Wilson Hardy
- Claire Allan
- Chantelle Miell
- Deborah Fleming
- Emily Scarratt
- Emily Scott
- Heather Fisher
- Holly Aitchison
- Katie Mason
- Lydia Thompson
- Megan Jones
- Millie Wood
- Natasha Hunt
- Sarah McKenna
- Vicky Fleetwood