Fresh from an exciting Rugby 7s tournament in Rio this summer, the England Women’s Rugby team will look to defend their World Cup title next year and head onwards to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games for the first time with a new identity.
The Red Roses is part of the new vision set out by RFU for the women’s game over the next four years – aiming to shine a spotlight on women’s rugby and inspire a new generation of potential star players to follow an improved player pathway from grassroots to elite level.
“It’s all really exciting and will provide a stronger link between us and our fans,” Rio Rugby 7s captain Emily Scarratt told us after the Red Roses launch at Twickenham earlier this month. “Hopefully more young girls will get involved with rugby and we will gain new supporters. The more support we have the better, ahead of a really exciting year.”
Rio saw the debut inclusion for Rugby 7s as a sport in the Olympics, and in 2018, Women’s Rugby 7s is joining the men’s game in the Commonwealth Games sports programme for the first time, and the pressure’s on to perform.
“Having the opportunity to compete in both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games is a huge step, so we have a responsibility to make sure we perform well and play an attractive brand of rugby so that people keep coming back to watch us.
We want to continue spreading the word – after Rio so many people were introduced to rugby and got the buzz of the sport and that was down to us to a certain degree. We’re all extremely proud of that.”
The Red Roses launch took place at the home of England Rugby during Women’s Sport Week this month, as the RFU announced it had surpassed its women and girls strategy target of getting an additional 10,000 females playing regular contact rugby a year early – with 26,000 players currently taking part in the sport.
“Women’s sport has made huge strides in recent years. The 2012 Olympics was a massive turning point with so many female athletes doing well and being greatly supported in doing so. The support that the whole team got at the Olympics was fantastic, but above all it was support that wasn’t specifically just for women as individuals and that’s really important for us.”
Emily and many of the team are already World Cup champions as well as Olympians – and they've got their sights set on gold at the Gold Coast in less than two years.
“You’ve got to haven’t you, when you say it like that it does sound pretty special. It will be massive for the sport.
The Commonwealth Games is a huge multi-sport competition that’s viewed all over the world. It’s about going there and trying to give some big performances and hopefully provide people back home with something for them to get behind.”
We like the sound of that! Stay tuned for more from the Women's Rugby camp.