England’s women’s rugby’s four autumn tests to be broadcast live on the BBC | Women’s rugby union

The 2022 World Cup kicks off one year on Friday and English women’s rugby has received another boost to its profile with confirmation that the Red Roses’ autumn tests will be broadcast live on terrestrial television. According to England head coach Simon Middleton, BBC Two is expected to broadcast all four games in the best Sunday afternoon slots, providing a potentially “huge” advantage for women’s sport.

While the name of the exceptional Emily Scarratt, who is currently recovering from a broken leg, was absent from a 40-person squad for the next tests against New Zealand (twice), the United States and the Canada captain Sarah Hunter feels the next 12 months could be very important on and off the pitch as she and her team prepare for “the greatest World Cup that has ever existed” and seek to put showcasing the increasing quality of women’s play.

Hunter, selected 126 times for her country, feels that women’s rugby is taking a step forward in terms of recognition and awaits the day when television channels fully reflect the change. “I hope there will be four quality matches to show where women’s football is at,” she said. “But we only got over that if we don’t have to keep having conversations about how great it is for terrestrial TV to broadcast women’s football. We will be fully there when it becomes the norm and people expect to see the games.

Rugby Football Union‘s longer-term ambition is to sell Twickenham to a women’s international but, for now, healthy crowds are expected to attend the first two autumn games against New Zealand in Exeter and Northampton , from Sandy Park on October 31. With 11 uncapped players in the England squad, new faces will vie for the opportunity, with Holly Aitchison, Maud Muir, Emma Sing, Connie Powell and Heather Cowell among those equipped to make an impression.

There is no room for opener Meg Jones who turned down a center contract offer in order to focus on the seven, but the team will benefit from the return of Sarah Bern, Bristol’s front row who missed the ‘last year. injury, as well as Alex Matthews and Helena Rowland who represented the GB team at the Tokyo Olympics. Almost half of the team play their club’s rugby for the Harlequins or Saracens and, according to Middleton, more than 85% of them have been double loaded.

Another important development will be England’s new kit which, for the first time, is different from the men’s design and represents a welcome improvement for players who in some cases still play club rugby in a small men’s kit. cut. “It’s really exciting that we have our own custom kit,” said Hunter. “It has its own twist and gives us a slightly different identity from men. Now fans can buy it and we can connect with them more easily. I don’t understand why kit suppliers cannot produce kits suitable for women [for all teams]. From a performance and comfort standpoint it makes a difference… it can be done and I hope it becomes the norm.

Meanwhile, in the men’s Premiership, Marcus Smith will make his first appearance of the season off the bench for the Harlequins when they host Bristol under the Friday night lights at the Stoop. The England and Lions opener was instrumental in sinking the Bristol campaign in last season’s dramatic semi-final, when the Bears relinquished a 28-0 lead and the Quins head coach Tabai Matson expects a backlash from Bristol. “We know it will probably have been a pebble under Bristol’s beach towel over the summer,” Matson said. “It should be a fantastic meeting with two teams playing extremely positive rugby.”

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