Rugby Union: England players can feature at women's World Cup and Olympic sevens

By Sara OrchardBBC Sport
England's women celebrate at Twickenham
England's last result was a 25-23 win against France in November at Twickenham

England players will be able to try for both Olympic sevens and women's Rugby World Cup selections later this year.

The events are just six weeks apart.

The Rugby Football Union's head of women's performance Nicky Ponsford said only a "limited numbers of players" would be involved in the "fantastic opportunity" to attend both events.

"It's not a question of them having to choose, more about conversations of if we think it's right for those players," said Ponsford.

"I think it's incredibly challenging, both mentally and physically for players."

It is unknown how many England players will try and go for 'the double' if both events go ahead.

The women's Olympic sevens event in Tokyo is planned to run from 29-31 July, with the women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand starting on 18 September.

Wales wing Jasmine Joyce went to the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team GB and has already committed to trying to attend both events.

After the 2016 Rio Olympic Games many of the English GB Sevens players who were on full-time contracts switched back to XVs for the 2017 Rugby World Cup.

The sevens and XVs programmes were then split, with athletes only competing in one form of the game.

The outbreak of coronavirus has caused stop-start funding problems to the sevens programmes across England, Wales and Scotland, although National Lottery funding has given players a lifeline.

The uncertainty surrounding the Tokyo Olympics, already postponed once, has meant many of the sevens players switched to XVs and some were brought back into the England set-up.

Former full-time sevens players Alex Matthews, Ellie Kildunne, Helena Rowland and Meg Jones all featured for England at XVs in the autumn.

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