England captain Sarah Hunter lifts lid on "challenging" year for women’s rugby

Sarah Hunter leads England women into their Six Nations defence this weekend admitting the past year has been a huge challenge.

The women’s game has suffered in comparison to the men’s, with their World Cup postponed, last season’s Six Nations not completed and this one pushed back into April with a revised format.

During the first lockdown Hunter offered to take a pay cut “to make sure there’s still an RFU” when rugby emerged from the pandemic.

She then added her support to Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child poverty by paying for free school meal vouchers at her former primary school.

Hunter said: “This last year has certainly been a challenge for the majority of the country, if not the world, in terms of having to adapt and change how we live and how we interact with people.

“And especially with a contact sport like ours, that’s been pretty challenging.

“We were meant to go down to New Zealand last year, which obviously didn’t happen. Now we haven’t got the World Cup. But the RFU has been brilliant in making sure women’s rugby stays.

“We saw adapted laws to make sure the Premier 15s got up and running and ease fears that women’s rugby would disappear for a year. And the RFU managed to get England autumn fixtures.”

The new-look Six Nations will be played over four successive weekends with the teams divided into two pools of three and the winners contesting the final on April 24.

That means England, who start against Scotland on Saturday, are denied the chance to complete a hat-trick of Grand Slams.

UK-based Fans will be able to watch all the home nations games across the BBC on the iPlayer, Red Button with England's final match broadcast on BBC2.


A: England, Scotland, Italy. B: Wales, Ireland, France.


Round One (April 3): England v Scotland (Doncaster), France v Wales (Vannes). Round Two (Apr 10): Italy v England (Padova), Wales v Ireland (Cardiff). Round Three (Apr 17): Ireland v France (Dublin), Scotland v Italy (Glasgow). Final (Apr 24): Pool A winner v Pool B winner.

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