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    Build up to the Women’s Six Nations

    England’s Emily Scarratt gives us her insight into women’s rugby as we gear up for the Six Nations
    16 March, 2024

    The recent women’s football World Cup in Australia and New Zealand attracted record viewing figures, while Team Europe’s win in last Autumn’s Solheim Cup produced drama that was on par with any of the year’s sporting spectacles, and December saw Mary Earps crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The popularity and spectatorship of women’s sport are both undoubtedly continuing to increase.

    This growth can be attributed to factors including increased media coverage, more sponsorship and investment, and the resulting emergence of female sporting role models, like the aforementioned Earps.

    However, as has been the case since the inception of professional competition, the challenge of achieving parity between men’s and women’s sport remains, as significant barriers still exist.

    We recently spoke with England rugby union international and former World Player of the Year, Emily Scarratt, about the upcoming women’s Six Nations, her relationship with pressure and performance, and what more can be done to elevate the promotion of women’s rugby union.

    Who do you fancy to win the upcoming Women’s Six Nations and are there any matches you’re particularly looking forward to?

    Obviously, I’m always going to back England, but I think it could be a really competitive tournament. All home nations have now had professional contracts for a number of years and Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) has become more competitive and of a higher standard, which will hopefully transfer into the Six Nations. England Vs France is always one of the most competitive fixtures and Wales Vs Scotland in the opening game will be a great first-round clash.

    With the upcoming home World Cup next year, to what extent is there an even bigger spotlight on England to triumph in the Six Nations this year?

    I don’t think that’s something that I have actually thought about but there is definitely a sense of wanting to continue the momentum built over the last few years. Sixty-plus thousand at Twickenham last year for England Vs France was an amazing occasion and hopefully the England Vs Ireland game this year will be very similar. Then, as you say, building towards a home World Cup is super exciting given the growth and appetite for the game.

    Twickenham Stadium

    Women’s sport is introducing more people to sport in general, with viewing figures and match attendances at an all-time high. What do you think could be done to make women’s rugby even more accessible?

    I think there are lots of things that can be done and continue to be done within the game. The obvious one is continued and more thorough coverage of the sport throughout the year, and also on a variety of platforms. The TNT deal with the PWR is great and allows further growth with people being able to easily tune in and watch games regularly,  which really helps make our game and players more visible. I would also love to see rugby more accessible and prevalent in schools, giving more girls the opportunity to try the sport.

    As a player, how important is it to prepare for different outcomes when you’re leading up to a professional sporting event, like the Six Nations or a World Cup?

    Really important. Obviously, you will prepare for various scenarios and possibilities that you know are likely to happen but it’s also important to have practised or talked about scenarios that are maybe less likely so that it isn’t something that could de-rail you if it happens. It’s all part of being mentally and physically prepared so that when the pressure comes on you can draw back to previous experiences comfortably.

    To what extent do you think the modern sporting environment we now operate in has affected players’ and officials’ relationship with pressure, specifically in terms of social media exposure and the scrutiny of performance?

    I think there is definitely a different pressure now because of the presence of social media but it depends on the player. Some players are very invested in what they may or may not get tagged in online while others may avoid social media during competition so it has less effect.

    Personally, I don’t see it as much different. In every game, I want to go and do my best and we also want our game to be more widely reported and spoken about. The bit that is very hard to tolerate and understand is when it’s completely unnecessary and horrible comments. We hope that’s not something within our game but unfortunately, it’s a large part of social media at the moment.

    Do you have any specific techniques to help deal with sporting pressure?

    I just try and prepare as best I can to give myself confidence and trust in what the team and I are trying to do. I do various work on mental skills to be able to recognise and understand how I’m feeling in various situations and then work on the best strategies to help in those situations.

    How important is mental health support as a professional athlete or coach? Do you think the need for that support has increased in recent years?

    It’s very important and the need for it has certainly increased since I have been a part of the England squad. I think previously it’s not been given the appropriate amount of time compared to the technical and tactical areas of the game.

    Our thanks go to Emily for her insight and openness.

    If you’d like to book a Six Nations experience, we’d love to hear from you. As lifestyle concierge specialists, we can take care of hospitality tickets, travel requirements, accommodation and once-in-a-lifetime extra experiences. To speak to us about your bespoke experience, please get in touch here.

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    Twickenham Stadium
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