Women’s season not an excuse for World Cup failure, says Richards

By Seb Sternik

Disruption to the women’s season shouldn’t be used as an excuse to under-perform in the World Cup according to England head coach, Craig Richards.

Recent cancellations to the Women’s Super League and Challenge Cup have put an end to any hope of seeing competitive women’s rugby this year.

Nevertheless, Richards has remained positive throughout the disruption and continues to build towards the 2021 World Cup.

He said: “It’s slowed things down, it’s derailed things, but I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason and for me that’s not an excuse not to perform well in the World Cup or not to have a good build up for next season. You have to overcome the barriers that life throws at you.

“The girls I’ve spoken to agreed we can’t use this as an excuse. At the end of the day, it’s a home World Cup. Hopefully things will be back to normal next season and you’ve just got to get yourself into the best shape of your life. It’s a simple game. We go out and we do our best, the goal is still to win a World Cup.”

Women’s teams will be able to host friendlies from October however, the England boss isn’t convinced whether the motivation is there to play non-competitive rugby saying: “It will be interesting to see which teams take up the friendly games. I don’t know whether there’s an appetite to play a couple of friendlies but it’s definitely not the same.”

With around 400 days left until the World Cup, Richards is still hoping to put his side to the test courtesy of Origin games and a potential friendly next season.

He said: “At the moment I’m looking at ways we can get some competitive games in next year. I think the Origin will happen. Before the start of this season, we had our first pre-season as England together. We went into some Origin type games, they weren’t meant to be competitive games in terms of televised or having a crowd, it was more about in-house training games.

“We’ll look to run that series again as it was really successful. We’ll look to run that next year and we’ll look to have some sort of mid-season opposition. What that will look like, we don’t know yet. But France would be fantastic. Even a Wales would be fantastic. But without a doubt, we need to get some hit outs next season against competitive and varied opposition.”

One of the few positives that the season cancellation has had is that it provides additional time for players to sort out their injuries ahead of 2021. Richards added: “I think there have been a couple who needed a break. I think there’s one or two who have been carrying injuries as well.

“If nothing else, we’ll have some rested bodies. I’m hoping that on the back of this, the motivation will be really high to really continue to train hard this season, be nice and fresh next season to lead into a really big year and get themselves into the best shape possible.”