With the eyes of the sporting world firmly fixed on the football World Cup in Brazil, you could be forgiven for not realising that there is another major international tournament just around the corner – the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
The seventh edition of the tournament will take place in France from 1 August until the 17th, with the world’s best sides battling it out for the famed trophy.
The competition will include 12 teams, who are split into three Pools of four for the group stages.
Runners up to New Zealand in the last three World Cups, England are more determined than ever to lift the trophy this year in and regain the status as world champions.
Only once in their history have the English ladies conquered the world; that was back in 1994, the second ever Women’s Rugby World Cup, held in Scotland when they blitzed past the USA 38-23 in the final.
The girls have been training together for one week every month in the build up to the tournament and maintain that they are better prepared than ever to take on the rugby world.
Although, the season started with mixed emotion for the women in white as they succumbed to a shock defeat at the hands of France in the 6 Nations opener.
However, each of the girl’s performances after that improved significantly as they got much better as a team, winning their remaining games and eventually finishing as tournament runners-up, with a Triple Crown in the bag, taking enormous confidence into the World Cup.
With less than two months to go before the tournament gets underway England have enlisted the help of the Royal Navy in their bid to once again become world champions. Enjoy the video above with highlights from their training camp and interviews with a number of the players.
Maggie Alphonsi MBE is one of the team’s most experienced players and at the age of 30 the inspirational Saracens and England flanker is one of the most well-known faces in women’s rugby. Maggie, known by many as Maggie the Machine, has accomplished almost all there is to in the sport with a record-breaking seventh successive Six Nations title in 2012 and the general status of the world’s best female openside flanker, along with the 2010 Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Award and being the first woman to win the prestigious Pat Marshall rugby award in its 50-year history. However, having lost in two World Cup finals, there is just one thing missing from Maggie’s trophy cabinet.
“This has been our second World Cup camp and now we are really starting to build towards the tournament with the things we need to do and how we can make our team better going into a World Cup,” Maggie explained.
“We are very fortunate: the last World Cup we didn’t have much time to prepare and this time we actually have had lots of time to prepare which is going to be really key, so we can learn to play with each other under pressure and also identify the teams that we’re going to play against in the Pool games.
“I think coming into the World Cup we are going to be the best prepared that we have ever been.”
After being forced to take time out of the game because of injury, Maggie is now more ready than ever to take on the World Cup and particularly champions New Zealand.
The Black Ferns are notoriously the best international side in women’s rugby, having won the last four World Cups.
However, unlike previous tournaments the English girls go into France 2015 having played the Black Ferns in a number of Test matches in the interim since the 2010 World Cup.
“It used to be you meet the Black Ferns in the World Cup final and you had no idea what they have been up to,” England centre Emily Scarratt explained, “but now we have had a bank of games where we’ve won some, they’ve won some – there’s been a lot that has gone on.
“There’s now far more thing that we can draw on, our experiences and things like that going into a potential game that we may play against them.”
The Women’s Rugby World Cup gets underway in Marcoussis, just 20 miles south of Paris, on the first of August.