Following another action-packed weekend in Langford, there is only one women’s event left on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022.
Toulouse will play host to the final women’s tournament of the season, a dual event between 20-22 May, as the Series heads to France for the first time in three years.
With just over two weeks to go until the teams arrive in Toulouse, we look at seven women you will want to keep an eye on in the south of France.
Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
Record-breaker Portia Woodman rightly hogged the headlines at the end of the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens, but Michaela Blyde was arguably more influential on the Black Ferns Sevens’ return.
Blyde scored seven tries as New Zealand won Olympic gold in July and she picked up where she left off in Tokyo in Langford, crossing the whitewash four times in three matches on day one.
She followed that up with another three tries on day two, including a score late in the final that looked to have won it for the Black Ferns Sevens before Lily Dick’s match-winning score.
Blyde has a career Series scoring record of better than a try every match (143 in 133 appearances) and she will be keen to continue her current form in Toulouse.
Charlotte Caslick (Australia)
One of Australia’s standout performers on the Series for the last nine years, Charlotte Caslick is arguably in the form of her life.
The Olympic champion currently leads the DHL Impact Player table, which awards points for offloads, carries, line breaks and tackles, with 328 from the five tournaments to date.
In Langford, Caslick supplemented her all-action playing style with seven tries as Australia wrapped up both the tournament victory and the 2022 Series title.
Australia’s co-captain notched a crucial try in the final against New Zealand, touching down early in the second half to nudge her side back in front in a match they would ultimately win.
Thalia Costa (Brazil)
Another player in a rich vein of form is Brazilian speedster Thalia Costa, who has scored 12 tries in her last eight Series matches.
That run started on day two in Seville at the end of January as Costa struck twice in a narrow 17-15 defeat of Poland.
Last weekend in Canada, she crossed the whitewash eight times in only five matches, including a hat-trick in Brazil’s Pool B encounter with Japan.
Costa is currently fourth on the try-scoring list for the 2022 Series, having scored 21 tries in 24 matches across the season. She will hope to add a few more to her tally in Toulouse.
Ilona Maher (USA)
Only four female players have made more tackles on the 2022 Series than USA forward Ilona Maher, who was at her best again in Langford.
A presence on both sides of the ball, Maher made 13 tackles and 21 carries on Vancouver Island to finish the weekend 10th on the Langford DHL Impact Player table.
She also came up with important tries at vital times, scoring in the USA’s wins against Fiji, England and Spain en route to sixth place.
One of the most popular players on the Series, she is sure to carry that form with her to the south of France later this month.
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland)
The most prolific woman on the Series at the moment, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe ran in 12 tries in Langford to take her season tally to 32.
Murphy Crowe started with back-to-back hat-tricks, against Japan and Brazil on day one, and scored all four of Ireland’s tries in their defeat of France in the bronze medal match.
In her last 14 matches on the Series, Murphy Crowe has crossed the whitewash an incredible 26 times – scoring three or more tries in five of those appearances.
She recently told World Rugby that her sole focus is helping her team, and she is certainly doing that. Putting her phenomenal strike rate to one side, Murphy Crowe is also second only to Caslick on the DHL Impact Player table.
Séraphine Okemba (France)
One of France’s standout performers as they secured a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last July, Séraphine Okemba has carried that form into the 2022 Series.
Currently fourth on the DHL Impact Player table, Okemba is one of the best players on the circuit at keeping the ball alive, having made 23 offloads so far this season.
A strong runner with an eye for a break, she contributed four tries in Langford as France finished fourth.
Okemba and her team-mates will be keen to put on a show on home soil. Due to the COVID-19 curtailed 2020 season, France has not hosted a Series tournament since 2019 and the hosts will want to get back on the podium in Toulouse.
Reapi Ulunisau (Fiji)
Fijiana star Reapi Ulunisau had yet to make her Series debut when she helped inspire her country to a bronze medal in Tokyo.
Despite missing out on the tournaments in Malaga and Seville in January due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Ulunisau has been a hit in her first season on the circuit.
In Langford, she topped the DHL Impact Player table with 13 tackles, eight breaks, nine offloads and 25 carries as Fiji finished seventh.
Ulunisau scored six tries across the weekend to take her tally to 13 in only 16 matches, and she will want to finish her debut campaign on a high when the Series arrives in Toulouse later this month.