Source: INPHO

Emily Scarratt – How does the Future look?

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The sad news of Emily Scarratt’s broken leg has a huge effect on the Red Roses’ immediate future. As we reconcile ourselves to being without her reassuring presence, what are some of the consequences?

She will miss this year’s autumn series and probably the next Six Nations, but there should be plenty of time for her to recover before the World Cup twelve months hence.

She must surely be the first name on any team-list the last two head coaches, Gary Street and Simon Middleton, have composed, even harder to replace than England’s long-term captain, Sarah Hunter.

Her extended time-off will enable the Red Roses to see how they perform without her. One area of comparative weakness has been precisely in her home territory, the midfield. Since the disappearance of Rachael Burford from the international scene the choice of a centre partner for her has looked like shuffling cards; Lagi Tuima, Meg Jones, Sarah McKenna and Zoe Harrison all wore the No 12 shirt last season. Now Amber Reed is restored to fitness, that adds an experienced operator to the mix.

These days the two centre positions are seen as very different; nearly every team splits them inside and outside. In previous generations they operated simply as left and right. It is perfectly possible for a player to switch roles; Tuima has worn 12 and 13 in recent seasons. But the constant juggling last year showed the uncertainty England were suffering from.

The selectors now have the chance to survey the candidates and work out the best options. Other names could still be added to the mix, Phoebe Murray (Bristol Bears) for example.

The position of the Sevens players means recurring uncertainty. When, if ever, will Jones and Helena Rowland be available? This was a problem last year as it was for other 6N teams.

We haven’t yet reached a point in women’s rugby where the two formats are divided off as they are with the men. The Sevens programme is making a hesitant restart, beginning with the Fast Four in Vancouver in a fortnight’s time. Next year sees the Commonwealth Games offering chances for 7s players from England, Scotland and Wales to operate separately again.

So it’s more likely that Jones and Rowland will not form part of the Red Rose 15s programme. The same would apply to Holly Aitchison, who played for Saracens last week and would be a welcome addition to England ranks.

95 and Counting

Emily is the proud owner of 96 caps. It is sad to think that she won’t be able to chalk up her ton for quite a while. But she won’t be the first Red Rose to face a long delay of this sort: Katy Daley-Mclean had to wait as she was left on a frustrating 99 across the year 2018.

As we wish Emily a speedy and complete recovery, we can selfishly look forward to hearing her give her insightful analysis in the commentary box.