Oval Talk

Eyes on the prize for captain Katy Mclean and England

Oval Talk

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Katy Mclean and her England team are about to head off to France, where they start the Women's Rugby World Cup as one of the favourites to win.

England have been runners-up in the last three tournaments, including on home turf in 2010, and Mclean hopes that more rugby fans will watch them this summer in their campaign to go one better:

"In 2006, pretty much just our family and friends knew about it. 2010 was such a great success, though; a home World Cup, and we had so many people coming to watch us.

"That's testament to the work that the media team are doing, and it's great for us to play on the biggest stage in front of the biggest possible audience."

And that audience has been expanding thanks to the Six Nations double-headers, with the women's matches following on from the men's at Twickenham.

The England men have also been incredibly supportive of the women's team, with captain Chris Robshaw appearing in a pre-World Cup video urging fans to watch the tournament.

Mclean is grateful for the support, and the chance to play at the home of English rugby.

"We love playing at Twickenham in the double-headers - it's a natural audience, obviously, and it gives us a great opportunity to show what we can do.

"People see it and they think, 'Actually, these girls are all right.'"

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Captains from all the Women's Rugby World Cup Teams pose in Paris before the tournament (Mclean fourth from left)

They're a bit more than all right. They go into the tournament as one of the favourites to win the trophy.

Surely the amazement that, actually, Mclean's side can play rugby and, what's more, are very good at it is a little patronising?

"Well, it's up to us to change that mentality.

"I think of it as something that's complimentary and nice to hear, because there will always be stereotypes about women's sport until we expose people to it, and they see that we can pass, we can kick, we can play."

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And now with just a few days left until the tournament begins, Mclean and her team conclude their gruelling and intense preparations and focus fully on what lies ahead.

She mentions hosts France and four-time winners New Zealand as potential contenders for the trophy, but acknowledges that England will also be one of the favourites.

"Of course we're doing this to win. We want to win every match - and now we want to win this, more than anything."

The Women's Rugby World Cup begins on August 1, when England take on Samoa.

Carrie Dunn - on Twitter @carriesparkle

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