Ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco this weekend, Sarah Mockford, editor of Rugby World, gives us the lowdown on the state of play in women’s rugby while England’s scrum half Natasha Hunt teaches us a thing or two about what it takes to be a player.
‘Every year women’s rugby continues to make strides and we saw a giant leap in 2017, with the 15-a-side Women’s World Cup final shown live on prime-time Saturday night TV,’ says Sarah Mockford, who as well as being the editor of Rugby World magazine was the first female chairman of the Rugby Union writers’ club.
‘Not only did that take the sport to a wider audience but it was recognised as a great game of rugby, regardless of the gender of those playing it.
‘This weekend we’ll see some of the game’s most skilful athletes, women and men, playing in the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco. There are sure to be plenty of thrills at AT&T Park and if I had to pick my favourites to reach the women’s final it would be Australia and New Zealand.’
Meanwhile, Natasha Hunt reveals what it takes to be an international player:
1. Most female rugby players have regular full-time jobs
‘As an athlete, you make sacrifices. Or rather, you make a choice to commit. I am also a trained PE teacher, so I had two jobs when I started out, but I have been a full-time athlete now since 2014.’
2. It’s a sport that forges strong friendships
‘Rugby seems like a strange game. You’re trying to hit people as hard as you can and run past them as fast as possible – everybody is putting their bodies on the line. You work hard because you don’t want to let your team down and, because of this, you forge strong friendships.’
3. They wake up early and workout – a lot
‘An average day starts at 7am, with training at 8am, where we have a screening to make sure our bodies are not vulnerable to injuries. Then we go to the gym for a weights and capacity session, or a speed session outside.’
4. As well as physical training, they also do mental training
‘After lunch, the girls normally head to our local coffee shop for a caffeine hit, before our afternoon training, when we concentrate on mental skills. Sevens is a game about focus, so it’s important to work on our mindsets as well as our moves.’
5. Rugby players need to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs
‘There is a movement at the moment for living actively and finding a healthier lifestyle. I find it difficult to eat between matches, so I load up on carbs in the build-up to a match, as it’s vital to have energy in reserve.’
Tudor Watch is the official Time Keeper of The Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, which takes place in San Francisco 20-22 July. www.tudorwatch.com