France was the winners first leg of the 2023 Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series in the women’s edition, followed by Great Britain, Ireland, and Poland.
France looked strong from the very first moment, and didn't stop until they got their hands in their medals.https://bit.ly/4659jEY
But who were the very best of the weekend? We pick the seven players that were simply outrageous in the Algarve 7s.
First, some stats of the first leg:
- 1090 points were scored after 34 games, with 182 coming from tries.
- Beibhinn Parsons and Rhona Lloyd, both with 8, and Seraphine Okemba, and Anne-Cecile Ciofani, with 6 each, finished in the top-4 for most try scored.
- Jade Ulutule finished the weekend at the top of the Players with most point scored (49), followed by Rhona Lloyd, and Spain’s Paula Requena.
Natalia Pamieta (Poland)
In the Polish ranks credit must be given to the leadership skills of Natalia Pamieta, one of the most solid players in the competition. Dishing out some of the biggest tackles in the opening round of the 7s Championship, crunching opponents and mauling her way to get the ball back. A gifted captain and a powerful presence that made a difference for her side.
Beibhinn Parsons (Ireland)
Beibhinn Parsons has been a new-comer on the scene for Ireland, and she has certainly made an impact at her first 7s Championship, blassed with a great sidestep and breaking the line in style for last year’s second-leg winners. With eight tries in the first leg, the Irish winger graced the Algarve 7s in fine style helping Ireland would finish third.
Rhona Lloyd (Great Britain)
Eight tries and an impressive weekend in the Algarve 7s, Rhona Lloyd showed why she must be seen as a loose threat on the wing and a pivotal unit for Great Britain’s hopes of winning the 2023 Sevens Championship Series. The sheer speed of her feet and handling skills were key for Great Britain to finish in the top two spots in their pool, topple Poland in the Cup semis, and make their way into the final. If Great Britain wants to gain qualification for France 2024, then they must supply Rhona Lloyd the ball and she will do the rest.
Anne-Cecile Ciofani (France)
France will end up with two players in this standouts list, and rightly so, as they were crowned champions of the Algarve 7s, and Anne-Cecile Ciofani played a major role in it on her return after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury. Her athleticism was clear to see whenever France graced the field of play, with six tries and four assists to prove how vital she was to the eventual winners.
Paula Requena (Spain)
Spain didn’t finish at the top, as they would’ve wanted, but they can be sure that with players like Paula Requena in their ranks, their future will be bright. Requena tried to build up good attacking patterns, upping Spain’s speed and pace in those important moments. Creating enough problems for her adversaries every time she meddled with them. Four tries, seven conversions, six assists, and the realisation that she can be a game-changer for Las Leonas.
Jade Ulutule (France)
The French utility back was one of the best in the first leg, working tirelessly to get back to her side when they lost it the ball, covering her teammates when they broke the line, and converting twelve tries which would be key to win in the Algarve 7s. Ferocious in every action, Jade Ulutule deserves to be highlighted as one of the superstars of the 7s world!
Julia Braun (Germany)
Germany produced a lot of good things over the weekend and Braun’s efforts to get her side in the top-7 didn’t go unnoticed. It wasn’t only due to her kicking or gameplay skills, both of each were brilliant by the way, but it was mainly to her focus and attitude of never giving up.
By Francisco Isaac
Photos: Travis Prior, Neil Kennedy