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MONTHLY // RACHAEL BURFORD RACHAEL BURFORD


WOMENS SEVENS IS A GROWING AND POPULAR SPORT IN THE UK - RACHAEL BURFORD, ENGLAND, SAMURAI AND RICHMOND LADIES FILLS US IN ON THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF UK WOMENS SEVENS


It has been an interesting season with the tournaments running alongside The Super Sevens Series, without being a part of it. There has been a mixed bag at the 3 tournaments in terms of strength in depth and competition, with two or three significantly stronger teams. This is in stark contrast to Amsterdam where the competition was far stronger with a number of


international teams involved. Nonetheless


lucky to be involved in 2 of the 3 legs as, due to England competing, this meant Samurai did not participate domestically and I was still fortunate to be invited to play for the Wooden spoon. England were training towards the Euros, which they managed to win, but the spoils went to Wooden spoon at both Rugby Rocks and Bath with England taking the spoils at Newquay, although Wooden spoon were unable to attend this tournie, so who knows, we could have got a clean sweep!!!?? I enjoyed playing with The Wooden spoon as


not only did we play some enjoyable rugby, we also were an invitation team with representation from at least 5 countries, which adds to the challenge as you have to find your common ground in how you play. It would certainly help the women’s game


if we were able to officially be a part of the Super Sevens Series and maybe affiliated women’s teams for all those core teams in the men’s Super Series? This would certainly add to the tribal following and further enhance the brand of a multiple gender sport and allow the Series to grow and attract more interest from sponsors and followings. This is something I have


encountered with Samurai and Wooden spoon in tours gone by and certainly works and adds to the fun the tournament. At these core Super Sevens Series we need to continue to try and attract these national teams, such as Netherlands at Newquay. It gives all the opportunity to play against different players as well as raising the standards of the tournament. The issue as we know is money and the ability of teams to be able to afford to attend or whether suitable sponsors can be found to promote this. It would certainly help the interest in the women’s game. I was also fortunate enough to play at


Middlesex 7s this year. Samurai did not participate and I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Wooden spoon. This also meant that Jo Watmore was able to play, who loves the game following her first taste with Samurai in Dubai. We played the group games on the back Cardinal Vaughan pitch in a 6 team round robin with the top 2 being given the opportunity to take the hallow turf of Twickenham. We were fortunate enough to win all our games and be in that final against Wasps. It’s always special to be given the opportunity to run out of the tunnel at Twickenham and grace the pitch. I have done it wearing the Rose of England and to do it in a Wooden spoon shirt still fills me with a warm feeling of excitement in my stomach and real sense of pride, to have the opportunity to play and enjoy the Twickenham stadium and TV cameras. A real opportunity to showcase the women’s game. I, along with the Wooden spoon girls, wanted to make sure we gave a good account of ourselves and made the most


of the opportunity. We did just that and whilst I managed to get over once, my team mate Jo Watmore got over for 4 tries on her Twickenham debut, not bad for a leaguey convert!!! We won the game 46-0 and climbed the steps to be presented our trophy and champers!!!... we carried on the party into the night at The Cabbage Patch and celebrated our win- another tradition of rugby!! When I reflect back on the domestic season


I think there are a good number of teams that are competing, although I would like to see more teams and ideally a tournament format that mirrors the men’s Super Series. We of course have the overseas national teams and perhaps if England are not competing, we may see more English based invitation teams in addition to Wooden spoon and The Pink Baa baas as there will be a larger player pool to pick from. It would be good to see perhaps an invitation team from Wales and perhaps Rugby Ecosse from Scotland. We will no doubt also see the return of the Samurai L next season who will not just focus on overseas tours and perhaps other Super Sevens Series core teams will follow suit on developing a women’s team. After all this is how one of the star performing players has emerged this year, having debuted with Samurai in Dubai, Jo Watmore has really enjoyed playing and being a part of the 7s circuit. I have also been impressed with Jackie Shields who is an Ireland international, who has been solid in her performance, as well as her team mate and spoons captain Lynn Cantwell; they both featured and had a huge presence in the wins against England.


PHOTOGRAPHY: PAPAYA PHOTOGRAPHY Issue 4 / www.ukrugbysevens.com / 37


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