When I look back on when myself and Sarah Hunter got capped together during the 2007 Six Nations, I can’t but help think of the monumental changes that have taken place in the women’s game.
World Cup years have helped in terms of raising the profile, getting more people to watch games, and getting them broadcast. When I started playing, around 200 people were watching us in London — and the majority were friends and family.
Now, for the France game, they are talking about the 20,000 stadium we are playing in having 15,000 tickets sold. A Six Nations match could break the women’s World Cup final record attendance. That is massive.
There has also been a change in the amount of footage available on other teams. Back in 2007, you were lucky if you had the previous Six Nations game; analysts might have to do a deal with another country to try and swap footage.
Now, everything is on TV and easily accessible. Back then, we also probably came in the day before. You would come in the morning of a team run, you would’ve played the next day and then would have left. That would have been our Six Nations model, whereas now we come in several days’ before. It’s crazy.
Grand Slam showdown
It has a great headline. Both England and France come into the game unbeaten with one more to play. You wouldn’t class any game we played in easy but France will be a different test.
We came in on Tuesday, had two days’ training before travelling to France Thursday. We obviously had a lot of league games cancelled with the recent snowfall, so it was nice to get a bit of rugby in — it felt like it had been longer than normal.
We know how strong France are at home, but you can’t get caught up in the emotion. We have to be clinical, really processed and driven in terms of what we want to go out and achieve. Ultimately that is what we will review ourselves on.
Whether it is a Grand Slam game or not, it is about going out and performing. If we can do that for 80 minutes, then we are going to be in with a shot.
After stepping in for Sarah Hunter for my cameo as captain against Scotland, it is nice to have her back as we prepare for a huge game against France. I don’t envy her in that tough job. In terms of the differences I found being captain, I would be lying if I said I will just go and play my own game.
For me, you become more aware of the girls. As the captain I want to be, I want to make sure they are all alright. Having that role makes you that little bit less selfish and I got a real understanding of what Sarah does.
With the week break, we got to focus on prepping for this game rather than having a quick turnaround where you reviewing, previewing and getting ready in a really short space of time. It has been nice to have more time for such a big game.