England may be flying high in women’s rugby, but legendary lock Tamara Taylor is predicting next month’s Quilter Internationals to be a stern test of their credentials – including an outing at Castle Park.
Simon Middleton’s side are set for a mini national tour this autumn, taking in new venues around the country while also playing at rugby HQ, Twickenham.
First comes a clash against the USA at Allianz Park but it’s a trip to Castle Park that’s the main source of excitement for Taylor when Canada come to town on November 18.
It’s a challenge the 37-year-old knows won’t be a walk in the park, with Canada ranked just two places below the second-placed England side.
“We played Canada last autumn, they’d gone through a big restructure and if you look through those three games, they got better and better,” she said.
“In that period, they improved and now they’ve had another 12 months together, they’re a similar squad and by the end of the third Test last time, they’d brought a massive amount of power and physicality.
“They are fantastic athletes, they love the offloading game and want to play as quickly as possible, so the team are going to have to work really hard to make sure the defensive line is set and putting pressure on the Canadian ball carriers.
“It’s a really good idea to take the idea around the community, Doncaster is a fantastic facility and to bring rugby to the north is superb.
“I’m a little bit biased as I’m from Newcastle but it’s making it all a bit more accessible to people who would otherwise have to travel a long way to watch the game.
“People won’t be disappointed – they can come down and watch and enjoy a great game of rugby in somewhere that’s different to the norm.”
Whether Taylor will make the starting XV for the trip to Doncaster is yet to be seen, injury ruling her out of the season up until this point.
But time on the sidelines has far from been wasted, making the trip to Castle Park as part of the CBRE All Schools Programme.
First launched in 2012 and aimed at promoting values to increase the amount of rugby in Britain’s schools, students descended on Doncaster for a workshop to craft a design for kits that will be worn by their fellow students.
The design workshop was staged by Canterbury, who will unveil the finished kits for the schools at Twickenham on March 9, after England’s clash against Italy in the 2019 Six Nations.
And Taylor admitted she was drawn in by the designs on display, confident initiatives like the CBRE All Schools Programme this have helped women’s rugby make huge strides since her international debut in 2005.
“It’s an awesome day, the kids get to pick and design the whole kit for their school and it leaves a bit of a legacy which gets handed down as the years go on,” said the 111-cap veteran.
“There were so many ideas I don’t know how they’re going to separate them, it’s really infectious and makes me want to do the designing as well.
“It’s an awesome project, kids get to make it really personable to their school and they’re not just wearing a standard kit, and the legacy that rugby was brought to their school lives on in that kit, at schools that wouldn’t normally be playing.
“More people are started playing rugby younger, a lot of women came through university when I started but now people coming through schools – that’s a massive pool is now being tapped into.”
The Red Roses will take on Canada at Castle Park, Doncaster on 18th November. For tickets, go to englandrugby.com/tickets