Jess Breach has continually impressed in an England shirt since the winger scored six tries on her debut against Canada in 2017, but until now the number of rugby fans who have been able to appreciate the skills that have made her probably the first name on Simon Middleton’s team sheet have been somewhat limited.
So the 23-year-old is understandably delighted that those who mean the most – her friends and family – as well as England supporters will be able to watch more easily when this year’s Women’s Six Nations is broadcast free-to-air on the BBC.
“My parents don’t have Sky so every time we’re [Inghilterra] on Sky they have to buy a day pass," lei disse. “Obviously they aren’t bothered to buy a day pass but even people’s families like mine don’t have it. For it to be on the BBC [is great] and everyone can get BBC if they have a TV licence.
“I was pretty happy [to find out about the BBC deal] and just to see how many more people will actually watch the games. It will be quite fascinating and we’ll be able to see the viewing figures compared to when we were on Sky. I think for all the matches to be on the BBC is good, not just our games.”
The first match to be aired is England’s campaign opener against Scotland on Saturday afternoon. They are clear favourites since they beat Scotland 53-0 in their most recent meeting. tuttavia, Scotland pulled off a sensational performance against France last year to draw 13-13 and Breach said England would not underestimate them.
“They’re definitely not ones to be relaxed about. We will go in all guns blazing like if we were playing anyone else in the tournament. They are as hard as people say the French are and definitely give us something to work towards. It’s going to be a tough and exciting game. It’s just really nice to get the opportunity to put on the shirt again.”
Breach has not played for England since the autumn internationals last November as the Women’s Six Nations was postponed because of the pandemic. The rescheduling means the competition will follow a structure similar to the men’s Autumn Nations Cup. Breach is excited about the new format and that the tournament is a standalone event. But she would prefer it to return to its round-robin structure next year.
The format is not the only change for England. Breach said their approach has also altered thanks to the World Cup being pushed back a year, which puts England in the same position they were in during the 2020 Six Nations.
“I think we were definitely going to train a lot harder during the Six Nations to prep for the World Cup. But now we’re definitely going with a performance execution basis and we want to put our best foot forward. It’s just to put a really good consistent performance out there for each game and just perform well and play like England.”
Postponement of the World Cup was tough but Breach believes there are a few silver linings. The tournament being held next year means her parents, brother, boyfriend – the Harlequins player Archie White – and friends could travel to New Zealand to watch her play.
“I think for a lot of us, we wanted it to be special. You want your parents and friends and family to try to be able to come out there. If it was played this year that might not have been able to happen. You want to share that moment with them.
“It did come as a bit of a shock and a lot of people were a bit upset and had made plans for after the World Cup. Per me, it’s another year to get better. I’m a young player, I’m not at my best yet. So next year maybe I’ll be better than I am this year.”