Ellingham & Ringwood's Alicia Maude drives Great Britain to Vancouver Sevens title
FORMER Ellingham & Ringwood scrum-half Alicia Maude made her debut and played a pivotal role as the GB Sevens team won the HSBC Vancouver Sevens tournament.
GB bounced back from their fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics to record five consecutive victories and be crowned champions.
The teams will now move across Canada to the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton for the second and final round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this weekend.
The call-up to Scott Forrest’s 13-player squad means the scrum-half has become E&R’s latest player to break into the senior international fold.
In the opening match, Maude, who played for E&R from the age of six, scored the third try as GB won 39-0 against Mexico.
GB followed this impressive with a 19-5 victory over Canada and a storming 41-12 win over the US.
As the only unbeaten team, GB topped the pool to qualify for a semi-final over Mexico, which they won comfortably 40-0 to set up a final against the US.
The former Burley Primary School and Ringwood Academy pupil started every match in the group stages and the semi-final before missing the final due to being cited after the match for a high tackle.
Her father and former coach at E&R, Colin Searle, who is supporting in Canada, said: “Unfortunately following the semi-final, Alicia got cited for a high tackle. The officials didn’t pick it up during the match.
“The rules around head contact are very strict, and there are usually significant bans.
“However, as it was acknowledged that the opposition player was falling and there was no intent from Alicia, the ban was reduced to the minimum sanction of three games, meaning she missed the final and she will miss the first two matches in Edmonton.
“She is gutted as she has never been sanctioned for a high tackle before, but the coaching staff have wrapped around her, and she will play a full part in the second half of the tournament next weekend.”
Affectionately known as Stumpy, the 19-year-old may have missed the final but her teammates went on to win their most challenging match at the tournament.
The US played well and trailed 19-12 at half-time, but GB pulled away in the second half with 15 unanswered points.
Colin added: “I am so hugely proud of her for being picked in the squad at such a young age, and was amazed that she started every game either at scrum-half or first receiver.
“Her performances, particularly in the big games against Canada and the US, were so professional and assured, she looked like she had always been playing at this level. She also scored a great try in the first match against Mexico.
“It was a great experience for her to play in front of thousands of spectators in a huge stadium and she wasn’t phased at all.
“All in all, though, a great weekend and an amazing experience for a 19-year-old, and I think she will just keep getting better and better.”
Maude follows former Ellingham & Ringwood players, sisters Poppy and Bryony Cleall, who both play for Saracens and are full England internationals, and Lisa Cockburn, a full Scottish international.