Ella Cromack Interview: The Red Roses are our idols but we want to work hard enough to make them our rivals

Cromack has played 12 times for Harlequins in Premiership Women's Rugby this season
©RFU Collection via JMP

Last weekend, in front of a record attendance for a home Red Roses match outside of Twickenham, England cruised to a 46-10 victory over Wales.

John Mitchell’s side secured their second win of the Women’s Gunness Six Nations in ruthless fashion and once again, it is now England’s crown to lose.

The attacking creativity of the Red Roses was relentless and it kept the 19,705 fans inside Ashton Gate entertained, with England racking up eight tries.

Unsurprisingly, Ellie Kildunne was one of the names on the scoresheet as she crossed on two occasions to now lead the try-scoring charts for the tournament.

Given the way England performed, the likes of Kildunne will only continue to inspire young girls and boys. The Red Roses are making rugby an attractive and enjoyable sport to play but closer to home, the Harlequins flyer is having an influential impact on those waiting in the wings.

Meet Kildunne’s clubmate and England Under-20s fly-half Ella Cromack.

“In terms of the women's game, Ellie is a really big inspiration and to be able to train with her week in, week out is pretty cool,” Cromack, who has made 12 appearances for Quins in the Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby this season, says.

“In terms of fly-half, Emily Scarratt, Zoe Harrison, Holly Aitchison etc are players that I look up to. However, I also look up to Dan Carter as well. I know he's not a woman but I like to model my game off his because I think he really, really was an exciting player and really creative.

“I think women's rugby is becoming more accessible and I do look up to those players now but maybe kind of when I was a bit younger and first started playing, I didn't quite have that opportunity.

“I started playing rugby when I was eight, playing with the boys for a couple of years. Then obviously at Under-12s, you have to move over to girls rugby. The rest is history!”

And recent history for Cromack includes last month’s convincing 99-5 victory for the Rising Roses against Army Women.

The 18-year-old bagged herself a try and is looking ahead to further opportunities against France (April 20th) and Wales (May 4th), respectively.

“I think [being part of the Under-20s] has been great,” she says.

“Obviously, we don't have the luxury of time as a group as we're always away with our clubs either at Prem or Champ but we're learning enough there that when we do come together, it's quite slick. It's going really well. We've not had many sessions together but we're pleased to have put on a show for those that came to watch the game against the Army. We've been in camp for a while and there's been lots of learning.”

Loughborough Lightning’s Lilli Ives Campion captained the Under-20s during that win over the Army having also been involved in Red Roses training camps in the lead-up to the Six Nations.

The 20-year-old’s inclusion highlights the next step between the Under-20s and senior level, and opportunities such as this - as well as being in a Premiership environment - is only adding to Cromack’s hunger to learn and improve.

“A lot of girls are involved in the Premiership and surrounded by the likes of Ellie Kildunne, Rachael Burford and I think it’s amazing just to be surrounded by those sorts of players. If you don't play with the best, you won't be the best. I think we definitely look up to that. Also, we talk a lot about them being our idols now but we want to work hard enough to make them our rivals in a few years time!”

Players like Ives Campion and maybe even Cromack could well have an eye on next year’s World Cup in England, with the Red Roses looking to put on a show on home turf.

Last April perhaps gave us a taste of what is to come. At Twickenham, England's 38-33 Six Nations victory over France was watched by the biggest-ever crowd for a women's rugby union game.

This year’s penultimate round will again be played at Twickenham against Ireland and for now, Cromack is hopeful that another huge occasion will only add to the momentum behind the Red Roses and inspire more girls and boys to pick up a rugby ball.

“Yeah, I think you look at that Twickenham game last year (England v France) and it speaks volumes,” she says. “Fifty thousand plus people there - it’s just amazing.

“They said it on the first reel that the Red Roses posted on Instagram, '58,000 people don't lie.'

“I think it's amazing that the game is getting so much more attraction and I think that with the Six Nations now being a standalone tournament, it is only going to boost those numbers.

“Hopefully, we sell out Twickenham. I think that would be amazing for the Red Roses to do. I think if we look at the trend in women's sport in general, if you look at women's football, after the Euros, the Lionesses have been on this upward curve.

“Even clubs are now selling out the Emirates and Stamford Bridge. Hopefully rugby follows that trend as well.”