There is one question on the minds of England women’s rugby fans minds this season. Who could guide the Red Roses to World Cup glory?
It’s an incredibly exciting year for women’s rugby. The Six Nations, the Rugby World Cup, and the Olympics all take place within the next 12 months. That is a lot of rugby.
Elizabeth Cartwright considers some of the players Simon Middleton could take to New Zealand.
Who could guide the Red Roses to World Cup glory?
The Red Roses won their last trophy back in November 2020, being crowned Six Nations champions and winning the Grand Slam.
They will be itching to get their hands on another when this year’s tournament begins in April. More importantly, though, they’ll all be hoping for a place on the plane to New Zealand. This is where this year’s women’s Rugby World Cup takes place and it all kicks off on Saturday, September 18.
So who could be guiding the Red Roses to World Cup glory? Below are some prospective leaders of the Red Roses to World Cup glory at RWC2021.
The Number 8 may only be twenty-two but has 20 caps under her belt for the Red Roses. Simon Middleton would be bonkers not to take her on the plane to New Zealand in September. She’s a phenomenal ball carrier and when on a rampaging run, is difficult to defend against. The back row forward made her Tyrrells Premier 15s debut for her childhood club (Firwood Waterloo Ladies) in September 2017.
Sarah then debuted for the Red Roses in November 2018. She starred in the 57-5 defeat of USA Women at Allianz Park and put in a fine performance. Sarah featured in every Six Nations game that year as England won the Grand Slam. She then moved to Harlequins and played in all Autumn Internationals and 2020 Women’s Six Nations matches.
Sarah was instrumental in the Red Roses securing the Grand Slam against Italy back in November of last year. She played for 60 minutes and put in a huge shift, running hard at the opposition and often breaking the defensive line. Many forget she’s only twenty-two years old but the talented back-rower has already proved why she’s one of the best. Whether or not she does get elected to play in this year’s Rugby World Cup, her future as a Red Rose and Harlequin, looks incredibly bright.
After it was announced at the end of last year that fly-half Katy Daley-Mclean would be hanging up her international boots, this year’s Rugby World Cup seems the perfect opportunity for Zoe to stake her claim in the Red Roses starting number ten jersey. The twenty-two year old who currently plays for Saracens Women already has 27 caps under her belt and has plenty of experience playing in high-pressure games. Harrison made her England debut back in 2017 and has played well consistently for both her club and country. She reads the game exceptionally well and is a fantastic all-around player.
Her kicks from hand are sublime and the hits are hard. Women’s rugby is often criticised for its ‘lack of tactical kicking’ but Zoe is never afraid of adding a chip and chase into the game to spice it up or kick for territory. She’s a brilliant leader on and off the field too. She’ll be hugely influential in helping the Red Roses to glory if picked by Simon Middleton.
Emily has a staggering 92 caps for the Red Roses. She burst onto the international scene back in 2008, scoring 12 tries in 12 games. The versatile back was the top point-scorer at the women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014. She was then Captain of the Team GB Sevens squad in Rio, returning with a Bronze medal in 2018.
Returning to the 15s set up in 2019, Emily signed for Loughborough Lightning and was awarded a full-time England contract for her efforts.
Her biggest accolade came when she was named in the Sky Sports’ ‘Team of the Tournament‘. She was then named World Rugby’s Women’s Player of the Year in November 2019 and become the highest ever Red Roses point scorer in last year’s 2020 Six Nations tournament. Her versatility and experience will be invaluable in helping the Red Roses secure another trophy.
A firefighter by trade, Shaunagh was a late bloomer as far as rugby was concerned. She only properly began playing the sport at the age of twenty-five. She earned her first international cap two years later! Shaunagh started playing rugby at Medway RFC but moved to Harlequins in 2016 where she played in every league game as they won the Premiership 15s title.
Shaunagh debuted for the Red Roses against Canada in 2017. Shortly after, she earned a full-time contract in 2019 and came on as a replacement in every game of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations. She has featured in all of the 2019/20 fixtures so far and is sure to feature in this year’s Six Nations in April. Despite only having 20 caps, she’s a hard hitter and a nuisance at scrum time. She gets under the opposition’s skin and loves a tussle.
Her athleticism has vastly improved over the last couple of years and her physicality could be key to the Red Roses success in New Zealand. She’s got some strong competition with the likes of Hannah Botterman and Sarah Bern competing for the same spot. However, she’s a very exciting prospect and this could be her last chance to play in a World Cup.
The star-studded winger already has 15 caps to her name but her physicality and dazzling footwork are sure to earn her more this year. She lit up the pitch on debut and scored an incredible six tries against the Canadian’s in 2017. She’s got an incredible rugby brain and can play both 7s and 15s on the international stage.
Following the 2020 Six Nations, Jess has scored an impressive 22 tries in 13 tests. She’ll be itching to add more to her tally when the Six Nations begins and many imagine she’ll be keen to play at both the Olympics and Rugby World Cup.
Another versatile back, her speed, and finishing are what make her so good and stand out from the rest. She’s already achieved so much for both her club and country.
The next few months for Jess are hugely important but also thrilling to watch for England Rugby fans.
Those are several of the contenders to drive the Red Roses to World Cup glory later this year. What is your opinion? Who would you choose?
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