A PE teacher from Little Sutton will hope to cause a stir when she steps out for her country in the Dubai 7s at the end of this month, writes Laurie Stocks-Moore.
Worcester flanker Gemma Sharples will have one eye on next year’s World Cup, also in Dubai, after being selected for England’s travelling squad of 20.
The 25-year-old flies out on Sunday joining the England B team – the Wooden Spoon charity squad – to raise money for the Sporting Chance Foundation which aims to improve the lives of underprivileged children through sport.
In an intense three-day competition she will compete in four games before the knockout stages begin, ideal preparation for March’s inaugural iRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 7s in Dubai’s blistering heat.
The former Sutton High pupil, who now lives near Bristol, said: “Apparently it’s 35°C at the moment so it’s going to be an extra challenge to keep mentally focused.
“It’s only seven-minute halves but it’s the hardest seven minutes ever.”
The tournament, along with the San Diego 7s in February, should prove ample preparation for the World Cup and a chance for Gemma to shine.
“San Diego is the next goal for selection and then hopefully I’ll be selected for the World Cup squad,” she added.
As well as facing teams from the USA and Canada, on the second day the Wooden Spoon team face England A – playing under the guise of the Sporting Chance Foundation.
She said: “It will be a good opportunity to prove myself against my opposition to prove I’m worthy of a position in the World Cup squad.”
In the full team, Gemma helped England to a famous victory over the All Blacks earlier this year with a last-minute winning try at Twickenham.
But with England head coach Simon Amor having to pick 12 from a squad of 20, Gemma missed out on the A team this time.