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Jess Breach is to wear a scrum cap for the first time when England face France in Saturday’s Grand Slam decider to protect the gruesome wound that required the attention of a plastic surgeon.
Breach has been given the all-clear to continue on the left wing for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations clash in Bayonne only six days after being the victim of a dangerous tackle from Ireland back row Dorothy Wall.
Once the 24-year-old had received on-field treatment and passed her HIA, she was taken to hospital where 15 stitches were inserted into a horrific cut on her forehead which she later posted on Instagram.
By Wednesday she was back on the training field testing out a scrum cap with the hope that England’s attempt to win a fourth successive Six Nations title will be its only appearance.
“Gruesome is a great way to describe it! The plastic surgeon at Leicester hospital did an amazing job of fixing me up well with stitches,” Breach told the PA news agency.
“A lot of people on social media said ‘that’s gross, you could have warned us!’. I definitely did warn them! Everyone is shocked by it and even when I showed the photo to the other girls they were like ‘oh my God’.
“It wasn’t pleasant, but I wouldn’t say it was that painful, more a weird feeling. At the time I just thought it was a scratch and maybe I might need it glued back together.
“I had no idea of location or depth and when I put my hand to my head there was blood, so I was thinking: ‘Oh, I wonder where that’s coming from.’ When I saw the photo I was like: ‘Oh, okay.’
“I’d never worn a scrum cap until Wednesday. Everyone said I rocked it! Cute was the word people were saying, but I’m not sure that’s a compliment!
“I’ll have to wear it to cover the cut, which was so deep. If the stitches ripped and the cut started bleeding, there would be more complications and I don’t want a big scar on my head.
“Playing with a scrum cap on is a bit different. I need to make sure I’m listening to people because it definitely blocks your hearing. Hopefully it will just be for this weekend.”
Facing France enables Breach to continue her comeback after almost a year out of international rugby because of a succession of injuries, the most serious of which was a broken back sustained in October.
The electric Harlequins finisher announced her return with two tries against Wales before her afternoon against Ireland was cut short by a tackle that was punished with a yellow card.
“It’s been like getting back on to the bike again, you just know how to do it. It’s been nice to be back with some of my best friends,” she said.
“The back injury was the toughest. No one knew how long I’d be out for. It was a case of take each day as it comes. Some days I struggled to walk and couldn’t touch my toes.”
England are targeting a remarkable 23rd successive victory in a run that includes successive wins over the Black Ferns to confirm their position as favourites ahead of the World Cup being staged in New Zealand later this year.
The Red Roses have defeated France – their closest European rivals – in their last nine meetings and are strong favourites to extend that sequence into double figures having already amassed 258 points and 42 tries heading into the final round.
— TikTok Women's Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) April 28, 2022
“We have some nerves, but they’re good nerves. Everyone loves coming to France and playing in front of the French crowd because they’re definitely rowdy,” Breach said.
“But if we get on top of the French team, then the crowd will definitely be silenced and that’s something we enjoy doing.
“They’ll boo and hiss when the kicker is about to kick, but they’ll also do that for their own kicker. We enjoy putting them back into their seats and back into their box, showing them that we’ve gone there to play and to win.
“We’ve got the World Cup coming up and this is really important because France are in our pool. A win would be massive for us, especially in front of their home crowd. It would put the pressure on them after losing to us so many times.”