It’s time for sevens again and those of us who played with Las Leonas in the weeks since the Sydney Sevens are very happy to be are back, having won our fourth consecutive Rugby Europe Championship title and seventh in history at the end of March.
c a m p e o n a s d e E u r o p a— Patricia GARCIA (@PGR_RUGBY) March 30, 2019
Gracias a l@s 8.900 que os habéis acercado a Central.
De verdad que hemos sentido vuestro apoyo en cada metro que avanzábamos.#LeonasDeRécord#EQUIPO#TeamESP #VamosLeonas pic.twitter.com/YzdIjLNTSX
We beat the Netherlands on a very special day at home in Madrid, playing in front of a record attendance for a women’s game in Spain, with almost 9,000 spectators seeing us win comfortably, 54-0.
It was a great moment for me, enjoying a hybrid team with many youngsters and a few veterans, a mix that has raised the standard of this Spanish team who are now fully focused on qualifying for the next Women’s Rugby World Cup, in New Zealand in 2021.
We know that in the European Championship we don’t play the teams from the Six Nations, but it is not our decision. We’d love to compete against the best in Europe and hopefully in the near future this can happen.
Getting back into rugby sevens again came with good feelings after making it to quarters in Sydney. We are happy as a team, trying to regain the playing standard we had at Rugby World Cup Sevens last year.
In Kitakyushu, we will have some new girls and the group has worked very hard, growing as a unit in our standard of play. This was noticeable in Sydney and we hope to keep it that way in Japan.
Fond memories of Japan
While some of us were with Las Leonas, others were busy devoting their time and preparation to sevens. They played an international tournament in Nice with teams such as France, Australia, Japan, Canada, Ireland and England. It was very beneficial to get playing time with teams that we will meet in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, because in these tournaments you can test stuff and give new players opportunities.
We were happy after the tournament and hopefully we can take this growing curve to the end of the season when something as important as a place in the Olympic Games is at stake.
We are very fond of Japan as we finished fourth in Kitakyushu last year, after a nice win against Australia in the pool and then against England in the quarter-finals, finishing among the top four for the first time since 2013 when we finished in third place at RWC Sevens.
Hopefully, we can aspire to play as well as last year. We will work very hard, more so in Japan, a country where I played this season for Tokyo Phoenix (main picture). I am very much looking forward to catching up with my old team-mates, enjoying the food and the culture of I country I really care for.
It's fitting that I will play my 30th series tournament in Japan this weekend, a milestone that very few others have achieved on the women's series. In fact, this weekend Canada captain Ghislaine Landry and I will join a select club of only New Zealand captain Sarah Hirini and Canada's Kayla Moleschi and Bianca Farella.
I've been lucky with injuries and I'm very happy to celebrate this milestone in Japan, a special country and hopefully we can make it a good tournament for us.
Talking of countries that mean a lot to me, I have to mention New Zealand and their current 36-game winning run. They are a spectacular team, with a huge standard and a work ethic, very close and a team that means a lot to me having lived and played in that country.
I am happy for them because they are an example to the rest of the teams.
In 2014-15, they had a similar spell and in an unexpected game, we managed to surprise them and beat them in London (pictured left), stopping their winning run at 37 games.
It was a special moment that confirmed that in rugby sevens any team can beat their opponents, even though it is clear that the consistent standard of the Black Ferns Sevens is outstanding.
Maybe they can break that record this weekend. Most certainly, they will be the first team to book a place for the Olympic Games in Tokyo before too long.