Helena Rowland is convinced a raucous home crowd for England’s final World Cup warm-up matches will be the perfect send off as they chase silverware this autumn.
The Red Roses are set to take on fifth-ranked USA on 3 September at Sandy Park in Exeter, before facing familiar foes Wales on 14 September at Bristol’s Ashton Gate, heading to the venue for the first time.
England’s World Cup campaign begins on 8 October against Fiji, while they will also face 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations runners-up France and South Africa in Pool C.
Almost 12,000 tickets have already been sold across both venues, with the Red Roses having enjoyed record-breaking crowds during their victorious TikTok Six Nations campaign earlier this year.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a massive home support,” the 22-year-old from Aylesbury said. “Exeter always do well with their tickets sales.
“You’ve always got a big crowd behind you, which is amazing to play in front of and I’m sure it will be largely home support.
“Obviously the Wales game being in Bristol, it’s very close to the border for them, so hopefully they’ll get a good few fans across, but it should be fun to play.”
Loughborough Lightning’s Rowland, who is yet to lose a game since making her England debut against Italy in November 2020, is a versatile back, regularly being used across fly-half and centre, but even impressed at full-back in the Six Nations against Ireland.
Despite not having nailed down a position within Simon Middleton’s team, there is one thing for certain, Rowland wants to be starting come England’s first World Cup match against Fiji on 8 October.
“Obviously, we’re all here because we want to start, you want to play those games, that’s why we’re in this environment, that’s why we’re constantly training and pushing each other,” added Rowland, who was at the Red Roses open training session with O2 at Twickenham with one thousand fans in attendance.
“I’m sure everyone is striving for that starting position, it’s not necessarily just about being part of the squad.
“But that being said, you keep your head down, focus on yourself, be the best version of you and if that means that you start or you make the squad or whatever happens, then you know you’ve done everything to make that decision.
“And either way you can be, hopefully, a little bit at ease with the decision because you know that you have done everything.”
Before Rowland was conquering everything in her path in an England 15s shirt, she was impressing in sevens, as she represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics last year, finishing fourth.
It also means she does not have the pain some of her teammates felt after losing in the World Cup final to New Zealand in 2017 when England were outclassed by the Black Ferns who came away 41-32 winners.
However, Rowland explained how that defeat, and others like it, have been instilled in the newer Red Roses as England go in search of their third World Cup trophy.
“There are a lot of players around that were involved in that 2017 side and it does get mentioned, those finals and those key moments,” she said.
“It is something that you want to learn from so when it comes to those pressure environments, those people have done it before, but also, we’ve seen it, we’ve felt it, we’ve discussed it and hopefully we can come through it and work it out as a squad.
“This is my second season within this squad so I’m very much a newbie and going into this World Cup cycle having probably missed most of the heartache from the 2017 cycle despite it still being discussed.
“So, I’m very excited going into this one and hopefully for those players who were involved we can right some wrongs.”
Emily Scarratt, Helena Rowland, and Abigail Dow were talking at the Red Roses Open Training with O2 at Twickenham. Through O2’s partnership with England’s national teams, it has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game. For more information on O2’s partnership visit https://www.englandrugby.com/about-rfu/rfu-partners/o2