Clark aims to emulate Gill Burns County Championship triumph

A view of Twickenham Stadium ahead of the game
A view of Twickenham Stadium ahead of the game (©INPHO/Juan Gasparini)

England legend Rocky Clark wants to emulate her ‘proudest coaching achievement’ by leading Buckinghamshire to another Gill Burns County Championship title this weekend.

The 2019 Division 2 champions are back at Twickenham for their latest shot at lifting a coveted trophy, against a Lancashire side looking to complete a double for the county, with their men’s side in action in the Bill Beaumont Championship final later in the day.

Both sides won three from three in the pool stage, with Lancashire beating Leicestershire, Yorkshire and the North Midlands in Pool 1.

In Pool 2, Buckinghamshire got the better of Surrey, Gloucestershire and Berkshire under the guidance of Red Roses stalwarts Clark and Sarah McKenna.

Clark said: "We are absolutely delighted and having been there four years ago and won it, we are hoping to emulate that again in Division 1 of the Gil Burns County Cup.

"It was my proudest coaching achievement, and all the girls are fired up and ready, we are just super excited about a fantastic day of rugby.

"It is very different being a coach to a player but I still feel the excitement, the heartbreak and the highs and the lows of the team.

"It is massive, we know how strong Lancashire are and what a threat they are going to be.

"They will bring it and there is nothing bigger than a final, especially at Twickenham, the home of rugby.

"We are coming down for the whole weekend and I am also commentating on Saturday, so I will basically be living there.

"The girls are just super excited."

Lancashire are no strangers to the big occasion themselves and are preparing for their third final in ten years.

Team manager Mike Dale has helped his side go unbeaten this season and now he believes his side can excel on the big occasion.

He added: "We have had a good run in really, it has not been too bad whatsoever.

"Any team coached by Clark and Sarah McKenna isn't going to be a pushover.

"There are some people who have been there, and that will give us the experience on the day.

"The stadium should not be the factor, but it will be what it will be and we are expecting a very physical encounter.

"The players are all really excited and ready for the encounter, it is for us to keep them as level-headed as they can be.

"The girls have got to cherish the day and take everything they can from it, but we will try and make it as normal as we possibly can.”

Whatever the result, both teams will enjoy the experience of walking out at HQ and the woman who gives her name to the competition, former England captain, Gill Burns, is urging the players to savour every moment.

“Twickenham is the best stage in the world to play rugby and this Sunday is going to be a huge day,” she said.

“From the excitement of going down that iconic tunnel and running out on to the pitch to playing in front of their families, friends and club members, the players involved will make wonderful memories that they’ll always treasure.”

You can watch the Gill Burns Women’s and Bill Beaumont Men’s County Championship Division 1 Finals this Sunday via the England Rugby YouTube channel, or to find out all the latest information and news on the finals follow @RFU on Twitter