England lifted the second IRB Women’s Sevens World Series title in Houston following a dominant display in the final over hosts USA.
England ran out 29-12 winners after an excellent weekend, where they had to beat the champions from Dubai, New Zealand, twice on the way to lifting the title. Jo Watmore scored a hat-trick in the final, in a display of real power and pace, and England, led strongly by captain Alice Richardson and with Heather Fisher in sublime form, fully deserved their title.
USA were in many ways surprise finalists, having failed to reach the quarter-final stages in the first round of the series in Dubai, but inspired by their home fans and their skipper Vanesha McGee and talismanic wide player Nathalie Marchino, they were outstanding over the two days.
Fisher, who was named player of the tournament, expressed her delight afterwards. "That final could have involved any one of the top eight sides because there is very little between everyone. This is a fantastic result for us and a platform us to build on for the next few months heading into the World Cup. It means the world to us. It was really tough to have to play New Zealand and Netherlands twice but we treated every game like it was the final and that’s the attitude we took into each one. We rose to it and we were calm and composed. You have to choose your attitude and we trust each other at all times to do the job. I am gobsmacked to get an award at the end and I know that it takes 12 players to win a competition like this. We are chuffed."
USA captain Vanesha McGee was also pleased with her side’s display. "We are happy with our progress from Dubai. We wanted to win but we are only going to get better from here. The home crowd was amazing for us and they definitely inspired us as well. We have improved a lot in the last few months. We have a bit more to grow but if we keep doing that we will be steam-rolling by the time we get to Moscow. There is nothing between the top eight sides – everyone is so tight. We are all fighting in every game but we really enjoyed this competition and being at home was a lot of fun."
More reaction from Day Two:
England coach Barry Maddocks
I am very proud of the girls. It’s been a really tough few days. It was hard playing the same teams on the second day but we came through it really well. It was a great final. USA wanted to play and it was an exciting game for everyone watching.
Australia coach Chris Lane
We are happy with overall performances over the weekend. We didn’t play our best game when it was needed in the semi-final but we came back out and took third which was fantastic. We came here with an inexperienced enough group of players so to give them the exposure they needed is a real positive for us. We are consistently getting into the top four at the major tournaments and we need to try and take that next step. Russia has always been our focus and as we build to that we will be introducing more new players in this Series
New Zealand coach Sean Horan
Every time we come to a tournament we take positives from it. We have to keep learning at this level and we know we are going to lose games at Sevens tournaments. We are a pretty new team and we are gaining experience. We are disappointed not to win of course but we need to get experience to get that defining edge. This has been a really good tournament and we have enjoyed the stadium and the surroundings.
Argentina coach Miguel Santo
It has been a unique opportunity for us to be here and be playing against the best sides in the world. We came here to learn as much as we can and to take it back with us. We are a brand new team so we want to take as much as we can from this weekend. Brazil are the big powerhouse in South America and our goal is to reach close to their level because we are a step or two behind them at the moment. We are working really hard at growing the game and being at events like this is a big help.