England Women win World Cup: Emily Scarratt and Maggie Alphonsi 'superb'
Ex-skipper Spencer also wants to see a new World Cup format...
Last Updated: 23/08/14 3:55pm
Former captain Catherine Spencer paid tribute to Emily Scarratt and Maggie Alphonsi’s match-winning performances after England’s Women won the rugby union World Cup.
Having lost the last three finals to New Zealand, England finally triumphed 21-9 over Canada in Paris as Scarratt kicked 11 points and scored a try, while Alphonsi put in a dominant showing.
“In my eyes, Emily Scarratt is the player of the year this year, not just player of the tournament, she’s absolutely fantastic," said Spencer.
“The composure in this game with her kicking – England needed those to get points on the board and settle nerves. Her strength, her footwork, her tactical awareness and perception of what’s going on around her is fitting to see her cross the line and get a try.
“I can see Emily as a future England captain; she’s always been a really strong leader.”
Equally vital, in Spencer’s opinion, was the pioneering Alphonsi.
“The pressure she has had to perform under every time she went out is what made her so great," she added. She’s been so consistently excellent.
"The work that she puts in, in the gym and also as an ambassador for the game in the appearances she puts in, going out and speaking to people is fantastic. She’s a great friend of mine, a great rugby player and a great servant of the game – not just in England but globally around the world. She’s become a real name in rugby."
I can see Emily Scarratt as a future England captain, she’s always been a really strong leader.
Spencer, a defeated finalist in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, claimed that finally succeeding is just rewards for the current generation.
She continued: “What a different feeling now to four years ago! They’ve been so professional over the past four years.
“They haven’t played tremendously well but they peaked at the right time for this World Cup. They deserve to be world champions. I know the pain they’ve gone through in previous years. I don’t know what it’s like to win a World Cup but I can only guess the emotion.
“We call the sacrifices ‘choices’. It’s your life, isn’t it? I don’t think people quite understand the hard work and the commitment that these players put in – not just the 26 in the World Cup squad here but the whole of the Elite Squad that have been fighting for those places in the last three or four years.
“To put it into perspective, England Women rugby players don’t train much less than the guys. And we have less rest time, less sleep time and less time seeing friends and family.
“It will take time for this to sink in for the players and coaches and for Gary Street and Graham Smith who have been there for so long and been through so much heartache. It’s not just the players’ dreams, it’s theirs always.”
Spencer also revealed that she would like to see England’s victory usher in a format for future World Cups.
“I would like to see a 16-team tournament. By having 16 teams it supports the development of the 15s game alongside the sevens game. I think the 12-team tournament is coming to an end now.
“If we had quarter-finals, New Zealand probably would have got through. I’m not saying we didn’t have the right teams in the final but the women’s game definitely deserves a 16-team tournament and a quarter-final stage.”