England's women to take first step on road to Rio

This evening in the modest surrounds of Esher rugby club an eclectic collection of teachers, students, a soldier, a police officer, and a vet will begin to instigate their plan to rule the world. Step one is beating the world champions, New Zealand, tonight and repeating that feat twice more over the next nine days.

It marks the first of a series of battles with the Silver Ferns – as the female All Blacks are known – that will go a long way to determining who will emerge on top over a four-year period unlike any in the history of the women's game. It will be fought out at 15-a-side and at sevens – next year is the first ever sevens World Cup played alongside the men's event in Moscow, the year after that is the World Cup for 15-a-side in France and then comes the 2016 Rio Olympics where sevens will step on to its greatest ever stage.

"It is potentially a very exciting few years," said Michaela Staniford, England's sevens captain who plays on the wing tonight. "The pinnacle of any sports person's career is the Olympics – up to now it has always been the World Cup for us. But when you consider the status of the Olympics, the global recognition, especially after London and how many people watched handball, watched women's hockey. It is really good that people had their eyes opened to different sports."

Staniford was part of the 15-a-side England team that were unbeaten in last autumn's three-match series against New Zealand, winning the first two games before drawing the third. It was a significant statement of intent against the side who have won the last four World Cups, beating England in the final in three of them.

In the northern hemisphere, England are dominant – they have won the last seven Six Nations and achieved the Grand Slam in six of them – but it is against New Zealand that their global worth is measured. With a mobile pack and an exciting back line that likes to move the ball around, England will start slight favourites on home soil.

"Everyone knows they are a nation that live, eat, breathe rugby and the women are no exception," said Staniford, a PE teacher (the players are all amateurs). "We are the top two teams in the world and have been for a number of years so when we go head to head there is always going to be high expectations from both parties and it is always a really good battle."

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Suggested Topics
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before