- England Women building on "legacy" for the future
- Alphonsi and Mason enjoy competition from new players
Wasps scrum half La Toya Mason believes England Women are building on a “legacy” already in place as they look to secure a sixth Grand Slam and record-breaking seventh successive RBS 6 Nations title against Ireland on Saturday.
England go into the title decider at Esher RFC as reigning champions but will face an Ireland side having the best tournament in their history and who could still take the title if they beat England and score 24 points or more.
Mason, who starts on the bench on Saturday, is one of the squad’s more senior players with 25 caps to her name and the 27-year-old told RFUtv she is enjoying seeing the side develop.
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“England Women’s rugby team has already got a legacy and we are just building on that and I think that’s what Maggie [Alphonsi] and I are trying to do ourselves – bring along new players and try and grow the game,” she said.
With 62 caps to her name, Saracens flanker Maggie Alphonsi is embracing the pressure from young players coming into the squad and praised Head Coach Gary Street and assistant coach Graham Smith for developing the structure that has led to England’s success.
She said: “I think what we are doing is we are developing a very good structure – we have got some really good players coming through. Over the last few years we have had some experienced players but in the last few months we’ve had some really good young players come in which has been pushing the experienced players who are there.
“I think Gary Street and Graham Smith have done an incredibly good job to keep the structure together and we have been doing very well.”
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She admitted it was a little “strange” playing alongside younger players but added: “I think what’s good is that these youngsters are pushing myself and pushing the experienced players to want to do better and want to progress better and I think for a lot of the youngsters that haven’t seen any loses – we have always been quite successful – I think that’s really good because that brings new enthusiasm within the team.
"Actually at the moment the aura within the squad is really positive and we are all really buzzing at the moment.
“I think we are really pleased with where the team can go.”
The match kicks off at Esher RFC at 2pm and Alphonsi and Mason are encouraging as many people as possible to come down and support the women ahead of the men’s evening fixture which both players predicted would see a home win.
Predicting a 22-19 victory for the England men, Alphonsi added: “I think our game is going to be a close one but I’d like to think we will win.”
The game is also being streamed live on RFU.com.