Rugby World Cup 2017 preview: Confident England looking to cap golden summer of women’s sport

England arrive in Dublin in such a confident mood, they do not need the luck of the Irish to hold on to their world crown. Of course, any little bit of help along the way will be welcome for Simon Middleton’s team, but with a Six Nations Grand Slam and a victory over New Zealand in the bag in the last five months, you can’t help but feel there’s something great about this squad.

The defending world champions kick-off the third major women’s event over the last two months hoping to emulate the success that the nation’s cricketers enjoyed at the World Cup in July, with the European Championships sandwiched in-between seeing the Lionesses make it to the last four before suffering an agonising defeat by the Netherlands.

For both of those teams, there were no hiccups along the way, and that’s probably going to be how the Women’s Rugby World Cup plays out, given that Middleton has decided to leave star player Emily Scarratt and 124-cap veteran Rochelle Clark out of the starting XV for their opening fixture.

 

“We have a strong squad and want to use the full depth available to us throughout the World Cup,” Middleton said on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to getting the tournament under way.”

England raise the curtain against Spain at the UCD Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in what will be a feast of rugby – six matches taking place on day one and indeed every matchday until the final on the evening of Saturday 26 August in Belfast. If all goes according to plan, it’ll be England and New Zealand who fill that final at Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium in a repeat of their clash fewer than two months ago.

It came as the preamble for the British and Irish Lions’ tour match against the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua, a 29-21 victory that sent England to the top of the world rankings where they sit today.

However, there will not be a moment where England…

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