WRWC 2010: Players to Watch in Pool B

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 17 August 2010
 
 WRWC 2010: Players to Watch in Pool B
Emily Scarratt has an impressive try scoring record for England - Photo: rugbymatters.net

With only days until Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 kicks off on Friday, we continue our series of Players to Watch for each of the 12 participating teams with the Pool B sides - hosts England, Ireland, USA and Kazakhstan.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE POOL A PLAYERS TO WATCH >>

ENGLAND: EMILY SCARRATT

Playing your first Women's Rugby World Cup at the tender age of 20 could be a daunting experience for any player, but then Emily Scarratt is far from your average player as her record of 16 tries in 18 tests for England shows.

Scarratt was only 18 when she came off the bench to make her senior debut against USA in August 2008 and crossed for her first test try, having caught the eye of England coach Gary Street with her exploits in the Under 20 Nations Cup in Canada a month earlier.

A sports science student at Leeds Metropolitan University, Scarratt has not looked back since and started every one of England's Women's Six Nations matches in 2010, scoring tries against Wales, Ireland and Scotland to help her side secure a fourth Grand Slam in five years.

Scarratt, who played international rounders for England at Under 18 level, has made the number 13 jersey her own, but showed against New Zealand last November that she is equally adept at full back with her composure under the high ball and eye for a gap just two of her standout qualities.

IRELAND: NIAMH BRIGGS

One of the brightest stars in Women's Rugby at the moment, it may come of something of a surprise to learn that Niamh Briggs has openly admitted to not knowing what a rugby ball was a few years ago.

A talented Gaelic footballer with eight All-Ireland medals from underage to senior level with Waterford, Briggs only started playing rugby as a bet with another girl after a summer tag session and has now been playing for Division 1 club Clonmel for three years.

The 25-year-old is now one of the first names down on the Ireland team sheet and showed just why during this year's RBS Women's Six Nations, terrorising defences with her evasive running from full back and ability to spot a gap long before it develops.

An accurate goal kicker too, Briggs is often the catalyst that sparks the Irish team and their vocal supporters into life with a sense of expectation - along with nervousness among the opposition - evident in the air whenever the full back gets the ball in her hands.

KAZAKHSTAN: OLGA RUDOY

Olga Rudoy is a rare breed, not just because she will be playing in her fifth Women's Rugby World Cup - something only player had achieved prior to 2010 - over the next three weeks, but also given that at 47 years-old she is the oldest player in the 12-team tournament.

The prop, who has previously played in the second row, first graced the World Cup stage back in 1994 and has been a mainstay of Kazakhstan's side ever since as they have remained the dominant force in Asian Women's Rugby.

Hailing from the mountainous city of Almaty in southern Kazakhstan, Rudoy was an athlete during her youth and only took up rugby at the age of 30 under the guidance of Valeriy Popov, the Kazakhstan national team coach.

Rudoy insists this will be her final tournament as a player, as she turns her attention to the continuation of her coaching career. However, the Rudoy name will remain associated with Kazakhstan as her son Anton, who grew up watching his mum play rugby, is a destructive ball carrier for the men's side.

USA: ASHLEY ENGLISH

Ashley English has been itching for Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 to get underway, particularly since arriving in England a week ago, and cites reaching the semi finals as "the most important thing in my life right now".

The full back made her debut for the Women's Eagles in 2001 and is now one of the most experienced members of the squad, captaining her country for the first time in 2007, a year after playing at the Women's Rugby World Cup in Canada.

English, who plays her club rugby for Berkeley All-Blues and turns 34 on the eve of USA's potential Pool B decider with England, is a dangerous runner from deep and loves the contact element of the Game.

The teacher is passionate about the sport and is helping to develop the Game in America at grass roots level by helping to coach a high school team, working with girls aged from 14 to 16.

We complete our Players to Watch series with Pool C on Wednesday.