Doidge's medal hopes are dashed
By Andy Baber
England can be proud of the way they responded to their Commonwealth Games medal hopes being dashed in the women’s rugby sevens, according to Exeter Chiefs Women's back Merryn Doidge.
The bronze medallists from Gold Coast 2018 were beaten 38-7 by New Zealand at Coventry Arena in their final Pool A contest, having already lost to Canada on the opening day.
Those results meant England failed to progress from their group but they bounced back from that disappointment with a clinical 36-0 victory over South Africa later on Saturday.
The hosts will now face home nation rivals Wales for fifth place and Exeter Chiefs star Doidge, who scored a try in the win, believes her team-mates can hold their heads up high.
“It was good to get back to winning ways but there’s certainly a lot to fix up in the next few weeks, we want to keep improving every day,” said the 21-year-old. “We’ll go into tomorrow’s match (with Wales) with our heads held high after that performance. There are a few things to put right again, staying on script being the main one.
“But we’re looking to right some wrongs and better our strengths. We’re massively growing as a squad at the moment and building towards a Rugby World Cup now. We’ll take all the learnings and put them onto the pitch but it was amazing to have a home crowd again, they really got behind us and it made a lot of difference.”
Abbie Brown, co-captain of England women’s team, also took encouragement from the character her side demonstrated against defending champions New Zealand.
“It’s always tough losing to New Zealand,” she said. “We haven’t beaten them since 2016 so we’re still eager to go out and beat them and I’m sure we will one day. But we’ve only really been together as a squad since January so you look at that and you look at some of the performances that we’re putting in, the effort and the heart we’re showing you can’t fault that.
“Sevens always swings in roundabouts, it’s very up and down and you have to ride that wave. It’s a tough one to swallow but it is what it is. We came out and we still had belief, we have a lot of heart in our group even though things didn’t go well yesterday.
“We definitely wanted to put a marker out there today and obviously we didn't get to do that but what was amazing was that the crowd was still behind us every single step. I’m so proud of the girls, it’s a home Commonwealth Games and a lot of the girls haven’t been to multi-sport events before and there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.”
Brown added: “For me the efforts we’ve shown across the course of the weekend has been great and hopefully we can go show what we’re about as Team England in our final game. We’re more than just the 13 girls that are on the pitch, we’re a whole bigger squad so we’ve really got a bit of a girl gang going on at the moment and we’re getting better and better.”