Welcome to England flanker Maggie Alphonsi’s RFU.com exclusive World Cup diary, where she shares her thoughts on England’s quest for world cup glory.
In the second instalment, we hear about England’s flying start to the tournament; the different challenges presented by the three opponents so far; and the squad’s collective determination to get revenge on Australia.
Photo: Getty Images
When I last signed in the Rugby World Cup hadn’t even started, and now we’ve finished all our pool games! We’re really happy with the way the tournament has gone so far as we’ve achieved what we set out to do. We won all our pool games and finished top seed for the semi finals.
Our first game against Ireland was a very physical encounter. Ireland knew us inside out and vice versa and as such it was a full-on game. It was the best Irish team I’ve ever played against. They gave us real challenge but we won 27-0 and got our first win and first bonus point.
The next game against Kazakhstan was difficult as we didn’t know them well, as we’ve hardly played them. They came out looking to be quite physical against us. We managed to get a good score on the board, getting 82 points and keeping a clean sheet which was what we needed. The aim was to get points and get another winning bonus point and we did that.
Our last game was against USA and again we knew this would be a very tough game as they are very good athletes and they’re a very physical side. We knew that we had to win this game and get a bonus point to progress further into the semis and thankfully we won 37-10. We’re probably all a bit frustrated as we still made some mistakes and gave away what were probably two soft tries but it was a learning curve for us.
We're out for revenge against the Wallabies
Photo: Getty Images
As we finished top seed our next game is a semi final against fourth seeds Australia tomorrow [at the Twickenham Stoop, kick off 8.15pm]. I think everyone in the camp is very positive and very excited about playing Australia.
Some of our squad played against them in the Rugby World Cup 7s last year, me included, and we lost to them in the quarter finals. We were gutted by that so I know a lot of the girls are quite up for playing them again. And England have only played Australia in 15s once before so it’s set to be a thriller I think.
I’m really enjoying the whole experience of a world cup. What’s amazing is coming out on to the pitch every time and having so many fans there to cheer us on. Canada in 2006 was my first world cup and while I really enjoyed that, it’s nice this time around because it’s on home soil.
What’s great about this tournament is that all of the squads are living together in an athletes’ village so there’s a real ‘Olympic Village’ vibe to this place. Also the facilities at the Surrey Sports Park are fantastic and they’ve helped to host a really good event. All of us in the England squad want to be the best international rugby team in the world but we also want to be the best country in the world to host the world cup. So far I think we’ve done an awesome job.