England women conquer Europe
Scrum.com
June 16, 2008

England won the European 7s in Limoges, France to qualify in fine style for the inaugural women's Rugby World Cup 7s to be held in Dubai in March 2009.

England defeated the Netherlands 50-0 in the final of the European 7s on Sunday, and in their six matches overall during the weekend they scored 216 points with only one try conceded.

The team led by captain Sue Day (Wasps) and coached since April by sevens specialists Simon Amor and Mike Friday won their pool by a distance on Saturday and began Sunday's knockout rounds with a quarter-final against hosts France.

A tough encounter had been predicted, with only the top six teams from the European 7s making it through to the World Cup, but England won 29-5 with five tries by Charlotte Barras (Saracens), Rachel Burford (Saracens, 2), Day and Vicky Massarella (Saracens). There was a conversion each by Burford and Massarella.

In the semi-finals England took on Spain and won 10-0 with a try in the second minute by Heather Fisher (Wasps) and another midway through the second half by Barras.

"Spain pushed us all the way and it took some really good team defence to hold them out," said Nicky Ponsford, the RFUW's head of performance. "Our team ran really good support lines throughout the tournament so the ball didn't get tied up."

The final in mild conditions in central France pitted England against the Netherlands and the result was more or less settled by half-time when England led 24-0 through tries by Fisher, Day, Barras and Burford, and two conversions from Burford, the fly-half who would be voted player of the tournament.

In the second half England scored another four tries through Fisher, Day, Kat Merchant (Worcester) and Michaela Staniford (Wasps), with conversions by Burford (2) and Massarella, to finish 50-0 winners.

One of the highlights was Merchant's try from her own 22. Three minutes before the end the Netherlands had a spell of pressure in England territory but a turnover followed by good passing to exploit the full width of the pitch allowed the Worcester wing to sprint clear along the touchline.

Having lifted the European trophy, England were joined among the six qualifying teams making it to the World Cup by the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, France and Italy, with Wales among those to miss out.

Elsewhere, Brazil have already qualified from South America and the remaining qualifiers will come from Oceania (two), Africa (two), North America (two) and Asia (three).

"I'm pleased with the team's performance all the way through the tournament," said Simon Amor, the England women's sevens head coach and former England men's sevens captain.

"Their commitment, passion and work rate was fantastic. We'd looked to improve all the way through and set the standards we need to meet if we are to become a world class team which is the intention.

"Rachel Burford is growing as a threat with ball in hand and in her decision making, not just in sevens but in rugby generally, and with her and all the members of the team the great thing is that they are keen to learn."

England now look forward to competing in tournaments in South Africa, Dubai and San Diego before they participate in the inaugural women's Rugby World Cup 7s which will run alongside the men's World Cup Sevens.

England squad:

Charlotte Barras - Saracens
Rachael Burford - Saracens
Susan Day (capt) - Wasps
Heather Fisher - Wasps
Emma Layland - Richmond
Vicky Massarella - Saracens
Katherine Merchant - Worcester
Amy Turner - Richmond
Michaela Staniford - Wasps
Joanne Yapp - Worcester

Head Coach Simon Amor, Coach Mike Friday.

European 7s results, Limoges, France:

POOL A: France, Portugal, Russia, Czech Republic
France - Portugal: 22-0
Russia - Czech Republic: 39-0
France - Czech Republic: 71-0
Russia - Portugal: 20-0
Portugal - Czech Republic: 43-5
France - Russia: 10-17

POOL B: England, Germany, Sweden, Andorra
England - Germany: 31-0
Sweden - Andorra: 36-7
England - Andorra: 56-0
Sweden - Germany: 10-33
Germany - Andorra: 45-7
England - Sweden: 40-0

POOL C: Spain, Romania, Netherlands, Israel
Spain - Romania: 36-5
Netherlands - Israel: 52-0
Spain - Israel: 50-0
Netherlands - Romania: 35-0
Romania - Israel: 34-0
Spain - Netherlands: 28-19

POOL D: Wales, Finland, Italy, Moldova
Wales - Finland: 40-0
Italy - Moldova: 34-0
Wales - Moldova: 31-10
Italy - Finland: 48-0
Finland - Moldova: 17-5
Wales - Italy: 5-28

QUARTER-FINALS (Cup and Plate)
Russia - Germany 20-5
France - England: 5-29
Spain - Wales: 14-5
Netherlands - Italy: 5-0

QUARTER-FINALS (Shield and Bowl)
Portugal-Andorra: 17-0
Czech Republic - Sweden: 0-34
Romania - Moldova: 0-12
Finland - Israel: 21-0

SEMI-FINALS

SHIELD
Czech Republic - Romania: 14-19
Andorra - Israel: 34-0

BOWL
Portugal - Finland: 19-7
Sweden - Moldova: 22-5

PLATE
Germany - Italy: 0-29
France - Wales 35-7

CUP
Russia - Netherlands: 12-21
Spain - England: 0-10

FINALS

Matches for 1st place: Netherlands - England 0-50
Match for 3rd place: Russia - Spain 10-5
Match for 5th place: France - Italy 14-5
Match for 7th place: Germany - Wales 0-20
Match for 9th place: Portugal - Sweden 7-15
Match for 11th place: Finland - Moldova 7-10
Match for 13th place: Andorra - Romania 10-5
Match for 15th place: Israel - Czech Republic 12-7.

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