Women's Rugby World Cup: England to follow Lions example

By Sara OrchardBBC Sport
Kay Wilson
Kay Wilson scored four tries as England thrashed Spain in their World Cup opener

Every player in England's squad will have a chance to prove themselves before the World Cup knock-out stages, says lead coach Scott Bemand.

Bemand compared the approach to British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland's philosophy on the recent drawn Tour of New Zealand.

"The one thing the Lions said was 'we'll keep the door open'," he said.

"So we're giving everyone a shot at forcing their way in to what would be a knock-out stages team."

Defending champions England thrashed Spain 56-5 in their opening Pool B Match in Dublin, using a team that left 392 caps on the bench, with three world champions from 2014 left out of the squad altogether.

Head Coach Simon Middleton has confirmed he'll use all 28 players in his squad during the pool stages, with their next match against Italy on Sunday.

Bemand said that using the whole squad could be vital if England are to retain their title.

"With games over quite a tight period you'll always see squads using their depth if they want to be successful," he added.

"There are girls that will come through and it's our job to give them that opportunity."

The build up to the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup has been dominated by talk of the pressure for countries to produce both XVs and Sevens teams.

For many of the world's top female players the allure of the Olympics, along with better payment and profile, has focused their efforts on Sevens, leaving XVs more of a hobby.

However, Bemand is convinced both can continue to co-exist, saying the Olympics is the "shiny new thing" in women's rugby.

"Sevens and XVs might be a different model in the men's game but that's because the talent pool isn't as big in women's rugby at the moment," he said.

"It will be mutually beneficial."

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