England’s women have enjoyed their moment in the spotlight, from visits to No 10 Downing Street and Buckingham Palace to a busy season of awards ceremonies.
But captain Tamara Taylor is adamant her side will not fall foul of a World Cup hangover when their Six Nations campaign gets under way against Wales on Sunday.
England go into the tournament as the form side but it is a new-look outfit from the one that defeated Canada 21-9 in August to lift the World Cup, through a combination of retirements, injuries and the absence of key players on sevens duty with half an eye on next year’s Olympics.
Customary captain Katy Mclean is among those on sevens duty but Taylor, who takes over the role for the tournament as a result, is confident a new squad can flourish in the tournament.
“Perhaps there could have been a World Cup hangover but the fact is that we haven’t won the Six Nations for the last two seasons,” said Taylor. “I’m sure we’re coming into it as favourites with the status of world champions, and we want to live up to that.”
Having turned 33 just two months after that World Cup triumph, Taylor admits that she briefly contemplated the prospect of retirement but adds that the thought popped out of her head as quickly as it had registered. “You obviously think about this as I’m not getting any younger and there’s now 18-year-olds running around the squad,” she said. “When you win the World Cup, it’s an obvious time to go but you’re a long time retired.
“I want to play rugby and represent my country for as long as possible. As long as I’m good enough, I still have a lot to offer but it’s time to go if I’m not making my mark.”
While England’s men have been together all week in preparation for their Friday night fixture against Wales, Taylor has returned to her day job as a community rugby coach for the Rugby Football Union in the North-east.
It has given her little time to ponder how she might lead England, her immediate assessment being that “I will just be myself”, nor the speech she will give to her players before they open their campaign at St Helen’s this opening weekend.
The hope is that England will not stumble as they did in their opening game of last year’s tournament, away to France, which denied them the title.
“We need to hit the ground running, particularly with some new players in the squad and knowing how important that first defeat was last year,” she added. “But we’re in a good place in terms of preparation.”Reuse content