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Inside the World Cup with Maggie Alphonsi

18 August 2010

Welcome to England flanker Maggie Alphonsi’s exclusive World Cup diary, where she shares her thoughts on England’s quest for world cup glory.

In the opening instalment, we hear about the squad’s arrival at the state-of-the-art Surrey Sports Park venue; the challenges presented by Ireland in the opening game; and Maggie’s steely determination to reach another World Cup final.

England flanker Maggie Alphonsi puts in a trademark strong tackle against New Zealand in 2009

Photo: RFU Archive

I can’t believe the World Cup is just days away. We’ve had a pretty intense summer as we’ve prepared for it and now it’s almost upon us. We had four tough camps around the country including an army camp that was really full on. The aim there was to make us work really hard, under fatigue and sleep deprivation, but it was a good team bonding session too. In fact all of our camps have helped the team to bond so well and we’re heading into this World Cup with a really tight squad.

After all the training it’s been nice to get some down time as we approach the World Cup and last weekend we were treated to two days away in the deVere hotel which was really nice and relaxing. A lot of girls had treatments, some even took in a game of golf, but generally it was about chilling out after what’s been a really tough six weeks. The break was just what we needed, but now we’re obviously thinking about the start of the World Cup.

We arrived at the Surrey Sports Park yesterday and it’s been great officially arriving here. It makes it all so real. Now that we’re here we’ve started to really think about the tournament. We’re starting to really think about the challenge itself and what it presents. We’re going in very confident. We’ve done a lot of hard work and when it comes to it we just need to execute it.

Ireland is a tough opening game

England flanker Maggie Alphonsi arrives at Surrey Sports Park, the pool venue for the 2010 WRWC

Photo: RFU Archive

Our first game is against Ireland this Friday and it’s going to be a tough game. We have played them many times in the RBS 6 Nations and every game we’ve played against them has been challenging. We know what we need to do as a team. We need to go into the tournament and do what we’ve trained to do, all the set pieces etc. Ireland are going to come at us with everything they can produce. They know us inside out so we know it’s going to be a difficult game.

After that it’s Kazakhstan and then the USA. We haven’t got an easy pool. It’s going to be tough but we have to take one game at a time. I know it’s a cliché but it really is going to be a one game at a time kind of tournament.

For me personally I still think about losing in the World Cup final four years ago. I even got feelings about it arriving here today. But all I’ve got to do is the best I can possibly do. I’ve got to perform well and hard. As a team we push each other individually and on the pitch you’ve just got to perform.

I’m really excited. It’s going to be a great tournament. To have it in your own country is brilliant. To have the semi and final at The Stoop is another step up. The women’s game has come so far over the last four years and to actually have the tournament in our own country and be part of it and play in it – well there’s not much more we could ask for.

All I can think about now is starting and almost getting on with it in a way. We’ve trained loads so all we want to do now is get on the pitch. The date and the time of our first game have been nailed in my head and it’s all I can think about at the moment! So bring it on I say!