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'We want to be leaving New Zealand slightly differently to how we did last year'

By Rosie Galligan
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 27: Rosie Galligan of England warms up prior to the WXV1 match between England and Canada at Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 27, 2023 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

So, 45 – 12 was the final score in our second WXV fixture versus Canada. A game full of exciting, fast rugby and some incredible team tries. Coming off the bench and trying to catch up with the intensity of the game is never easy, but I put my head down, carried and hit some rucks (that’s what second rows do right!)

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After a bus journey full of songs, we made it back to the hotel and had our after match meal. It was late by this point so I had a quick snack and went to bed knowing I could have a lie in in the morning – which is always a luxury in camp.

I slept till 10am and spent most of the day doing recovery and analysis. In the evening we went to see the Little Blue Penguins on the Otago Peninsula. They were adorable. I think it’s really important to make as many memories as you can off the pitch whilst you’re away. It’s not very often you come face to face with a sea lion or watch penguins waddle up a beach. These are the things you remember forever.

On Sunday we ended up getting an early flight to Auckland – a place that many of us had been to a year ago for the World Cup. I’ve loved being back in a busy city. The first thing I did once I had checked into my hotel room was redownload the Beam App (electric scooter) and whizz down to the main shopping street for a little walkabout. I had been so good with not spending money elsewhere as I knew Auckland was the place I’d want to go wild!

Tour can be quite demanding both physically and mentally and having that mental switch off away from rugby and that sense of being able to do things that you would do in England is quite a nice feeling. There’s loads of things to do and access to ubers/scooters which gives you a bit more independence too.

We were sat down at the start of the week and were told what the training schedule looked like and where we are in terms of where we’d come from. We’d had a look at the stats from preseason leading up into those warm-up games and where we wanted to peak at the end of the Canada blocks, and then how we tapered and how we’re rebuilding for a big performance this weekend.

It’s really interesting seeing all of the data behind what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s given us all that little kick to get through the next six days and go home proud of what we have achieved.

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We’re in the final week of WXV 1 now and had a really good training day on Tuesday. We trained at such a high intensity that we came off the pitch feeling like we’d just played a game. I said to Deacs [Louis Deacon] that was one of the hardest sessions we’d done, and he said ‘that’s going to make Saturday easy then isn’t it’.

Here is a reason and rationale as to why we train so hard and I think what we know that we are a team who train like no other nation. We know what we’re preparing for and that we want to be the best.

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On Wednesday we had a Red Roses ‘Showcase’. A big part of our bus journeys and changing room celebrations is singing and Mitch (John Mitchell) has loved the buzz that it creates.

From his time with Japan he suggested coming up with a Red Roses song – a song we can use after games to celebrate or on the bus for team morale! We had a few entries which were class. Mo Hunt and Meg Jones were the out and out winners. They came up with a version of ‘Freed From Desire’ using terminology that we use in our game plans.

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Our team manager Harriet put together a rendition of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 with the chorus starting ‘Scoring try to try, with passion and devotion’. It’s fair to say, Sarah Beckett had to lead us on that one – both the timing and pitch!

With all that being said, we face the world champion Black Ferns this weekend and there’s still a big job to be done. We want to be leaving New Zealand slightly differently to how we did last year.

This is the biggest fixture in the women’s game where World Cup winning Black Ferns play the number one team in the world, the Red Roses. The quality of rugby that will be put on the pitch on Saturday evening will be phenomenal.

You’ll see loads of running rugby, battles in the set piece and a lot of mind games. Who can outsmart who, who’s got the better tactics, who can perform best under pressure…and you can watch it all on ITVX or on RugbyPass TV.

So with that being said, I’ll leave it to you to tune in and support us on Saturday morning!

Let’s go Red Roses!

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