England expects to welcome a record crowd for its women’s rugby fixture against Italy on Saturday.
So far, 8,700 tickets have been sold for the game at Exeter’s Sandy Park, the highest number for a women’s game on English soil outside the World Cup.
The Red Roses have won all three of their games in this year’s Six Nations with resounding victories over Wales, France, and Ireland all yielding four-try bonus points.
Saturday’s opponent Italy also remains unbeaten, but trails England by three points following a draw against Wales.
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“It’s so important that we continue to drive interest in the women’s game from grassroots right the way up to the professional level,” said England center Lagi Tuima.
“As the Red Roses we have the responsibility to act as role models for women and girls who are looking to get into rugby and hopefully by bringing the women’s game to Exeter and other parts of the country we can do our bit in getting more people involved.”
These are exciting times for women’s rugby in England with the team chasing its ninth Six Nations grand slam having fallen agonizingly short to France in last year’s tournament.
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A landmark deal was reached in 2018 when it was announced that 28 professional contracts were being offered to Red Roses players, the first deal of its kind in women’s rugby.
This year’s Six Nations sees England players representing their country as full professionals for the first time having previously only been contracted on a temporary basis during the 2017 World Cup.
England’s last game of the campaign against Scotland will be held at Twickenham Stadium as a double-header before the men take to the field.