Women’s rugby union would really prosper from more full-time nations, says England coach Simon Middleton

England Rugby Union Women’s head coach Simon Middleton feels it would be “fantastic for the game” to see more nations make the leap into a full-time environment.

The Red Roses return to Doncaster Knights’ Castle Park for the third time in 15 months tomorrow having handed out professional contracts for the first time last year.

England haven’t lost an international match since March 2018 and are the only full-time side in the Six Nations as they prepare to take on Ireland in South Yorkshire.

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He said: “It would be fantastic for the game if we could look five to 10 years from now and all the home nations had full-time programmes for their women, with league structures in place.

Sarah Hunter trains during an England Women Rugby Media Access day at Loughborough University on February 19, 2020 in Loughborough, England. (Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

“There is nothing to say that is not going to be the case.

“The women’s game gets compared to the men’s game quite a lot but people don’t quite see the longevity there is in the men’s game and how long it has taken the men’s game to get where it is now.

“The women’s game is moving at an unbelievable pace and the RFU are at the front of that and driving the women’s game forward.”

France have been England’s closest competitors in recent years, with both nations dominating the Women’s Six Nations since 2016, winning two titles each.

England Women's head coach Simon Middleton. (Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The Red Roses earned a 19-13 win in France in their opening game of the tournament while tomorrow’s opponents Ireland are unbeaten in their opening two fixtures.

Middleton added: “France have a very strong programme.

“They have invested a lot and you have seen that in the results we have had against France, there has only been roughly one score in every game.

“I don’t think we are breaking away from everybody that fast, certainly not from France.

“What we want is spectacles like we had in France, full stadiums and two teams going toe to toe. The more of those games we can get the better for the competition. That helps drive the game forward.”

Aldcroft interview: Page 10