By Jack Lacey-Hatton
England rugby star Ellie Kildunne is relishing the chance to be part of a ‘golden era’ for women’s sport in this country by keeping the winning feeling going this summer.
The Red Roses flyer was part of the team that swept aside all competition in the 2022 TikTok Six Nations and will head to New Zealand, with England, among the favourites to lift the Rugby World Cup in October.
It could cap off an extraordinary year for English women’s national teams, following the footballers securing a memorable Euro 2022 triumph at Wembley and the hockey team taking Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham last weekend.
Kildunne, who is currently in a pre-season training camp with her Red Roses teammates, is hungry for the No.1 side in women’s rugby to have their moment in the national spotlight this autumn.
“It has been massively inspirational seeing the other England women’s teams doing as well as they are,” she said. “It gives us that extra boost to go out and get more trophies, more success.
“We all want to be part of this time and make it a memorable year.
“Having played quite a bit of football when I was younger watching the Lionesses, it really sparked something inside me. It has motivated me to do well over this training camp and be at my best so that I’m in the team.
“It’s a golden era for women’s sport in this country, so if we can bring home the World Cup and help inspire the next superstars, that would be fantastic.”
Before the small matter of heading to New Zealand to begin their quest for World Cup glory, Kildunne and her England teammates will be hosting an open training session on Thursday August 11 at the iconic Twickenham Stadium.
Supported by O2, the event offers fans a chance to see Simon Middleton’s side on home soil before they take on the world later this year.
For fullback Kildunne, it is an important opportunity to not only showcase the intensity of the Red Roses training but help inspire the next generation.
“I haven’t stopped banging on about how cool it is to have people watching us come and train,” she added. “I hope we get loads coming down.
“We train really hard. Our success is a credit to that.
“So it’ll be really awesome to show that, but also to show the youngsters what it takes to be an England Red Rose, hopefully it’ll inspire a few of them.
“Ultimately we would not be a professional outfit if people weren’t coming down to watch us.
“It’s really important to show we’re grateful and that we appreciate the support.
“I always think you never know, you could speak to someone who is on the verge of stopping playing rugby but not sure, that could change their whole future.”
When Kildunne started playing rugby as a nine-year-old in Keighley, she had to play for and against teams of boys.
The England and Harlequins star had to overcome initial prejudice and doubt, before eventually before being accepted by her peers as an equal.
And now she believes rugby is an appealing and attractive sport for girls to get involved in, with opportunities galore now available.
“You hear a lot more girls getting involved in the game from a young age now,” Kildunne added.
“It was different when I was at school, I was the only girl in a team of boys.
“That has totally changed now. When I go back to my old school there are five or six girls not only playing at school, but for teams outside the school, that is really awesome to hear.
“You can see the progression happen. We’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s really important to keep on pushing the sport and encouraging daughters and sisters to give it a go.”
Red Roses Open Training with O2: Come and see Simon Middleton’s side before they take on the world at an open training session at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 11 August. Gates open at 10am and the training session starts at 11am. More details/secure your tickets here: http://bit.ly/RRsOpenTraining