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'For the Red Roses it brings that feeling of excitement and pressure - can we silence the crowd'

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Rosie Galligan of England makes her way down the tunnel ahead of the Guinness Women's Six Nations 2024 match between England and Wales at Ashton Gate on March 30, 2024 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Harry Trump - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Women’s sport really is on the rise. The Scots have announced their first sell-out at the Hive for our game on Saturday. I’m excited to be surrounded by over 7000 Scottish people singing with passion and cheering on their home side. For the Red Roses it brings that feeling of excitement and pressure – can we silence the crowd…

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We’re into game three of the tournament, so training weeks are pretty similar now. The schedule starts to feel a little mundane so as a treat, our team manager got us access to Pennyhill Park Spa where we spent the day in the thermal pools, saunas and ice rooms.

Doing something different in camp makes you feel a bit more human again. After a couple of hours in the spa I spent an hour in the changing rooms in my robe blowdrying and straightening my hair because I could!

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Abbie Ward: Bump in the Road | trailer

Bump in the Road explores the challenges faced by professional female athletes and all working mothers, featuring England lock, Abbie Ward. Watch the full documentary on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

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Abbie Ward: Bump in the Road | trailer

Bump in the Road explores the challenges faced by professional female athletes and all working mothers, featuring England lock, Abbie Ward. Watch the full documentary on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

On Thursday we made our way up to Edinburgh. This time two years ago we travelled up to Edinburgh on a bus. It’s fair to say I definitely preferred the hour plane journey to the eight we spent on a bus that year.

The Scotland fixture in 2022 was where I received my second cap, 3 years after my first. In that time I contracted meningitis which left me hospitalised for 10 days in September 2019, and then shattered my ankle in January 2020 where I was rehabbing for a year during Covid.

To be able to go back there this weekend feels really special. I am now a contracted Red Rose, a World Cup runner-up and an inaugural WXV winner.

Scotland are a high-energy squad who like to keep the ball alive. In previous encounters, Scotland have been the team who have the highest ball in play periods, so for us, we have worked hard on how we are going to counteract that.

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Not only have we been training to meet those demands, but we have also tactically looked at ways we can stop them from finding their flow. A key threat for us to nullify is Helen Nelson at 10. If we can do this, hopefully, it disrupts the rest of their passages of play.

This week, Rugby World Cup posted an announcement stating there were ‘500 days until the World Cup’. It felt a bit surreal as it only feels like yesterday we were in New Zealand at the 2022 World Cup. As I’ve spoken about before, I think women’s rugby is in a really good place to hit that peak in 2025.

Organisations are starting to see the benefits of supporting women’s sport, sports fans are starting to see it as a high-quality, fun product and the talent on the pitch is only ever-growing! Between now and then we still have a WXV tour and another Six Nations, so there is plenty of time to lure in more fans from across the world.

But I think the announcement of our two warm-up games is hugely beneficial from a marketing perspective to see where the game is at. It has been shared that we will be hosting the Black Ferns and France prior to WXV. England vs New Zealand is seen as one of the biggest games in the women’s game, so to be able to host that at the home of English Rugby will be a spectacle in itself.

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As with France, you never really know what you’re going to get. When they’re on it, they’re on it, but when they’re slightly off it can go really wrong for them. They have been rebuilding since the World Cup and I’m excited to see what they have to offer when we play them in a few weeks and then again on home soil later in the year.

On a different note, RugbyPass TV is now streaming Abbie Ward: A Bump in the Road worldwide. This is a must-watch for any female athlete who has ever questioned becoming a mother because of their sport.

Abbie takes you on her journey from pre-birth to getting back on the pitch and some of the tough decisions she has to make on the way. It was eye-opening and has definitely created a more open conversation on motherhood in sport. You can watch it now for free on RugbyPass TV here.

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