ENGLAND’S dreams of a first women’s RBS 6 Nations championship for three years may be all but over – but that won’t blunt the home edge tonight against Scotland.
Darlington’s Northern Echo Arena is the stage for two Calcutta Cup matches tonight.
Anyone who has not seen women’s rugby, get down to here and see for yourselfKaty Mclean
England meet Scotland in an U20 international (5.30pm) ahead of the fourth match of the women’s RBS 6 Nations programme.
Narrow defeats in Wales and Ireland have, barring a result or two elsewhere going their way, damaged England’s title hopes.
But England are desperate to showcase their skills in front of the North East public this evening (7.35pm kick-off) and show how good women’s rugby can be.
Durham girl Katy Mclean, who skippered England to World Cup glory last year, hopes people will give it a try at the stadium she already graces as a star with Darlington Mowden Park.
“Anyone who has not seen women’s rugby, get down to here and see for yourself,” smiled the former Sunderland school teacher.
“That’s the starting point, you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of the sport, just come and watch and form your opinion.”
Women’s sport has grown in recent years in terms of profile and attainment.
England’s female teams are being successful, even if the men have been struggling.
“You have got have been living in a hole if you have not seen anything about women’s sport,” Mclean told the Echo.
“It’s a hot topic at the moment, especially women’s team sports.
“2012 was a massive kick-start for women’s sport, in terms of individual athletes – Jess Ennis, Kath Grainger really started to put athletes on the map.
“On the back of that, you had women’s cricket, netball, us winning the World Cup.
“With our match here, I would say ‘give it a chance, see what you think’.”
Fans look to be guaranteed a full-blown international encounter.
England have won one from three while the Scots have fared worse, with no points to date.
But Mclean expects a tough test from England’s oldest rivals.
“Scotland have not had the best results so far, but this fixture has such a massive history to it,” said the 29-year-old.
“The rivalry of England v Scotland is huge, it doesn’t really matter what’s gone on before this.
“Both teams will be very focused on this game.
“And with it being in the north there is a good chance people will come down from Scotland to watch.
“It will be a great night.”
And it will be a big occasion for Darlington Mowden Park who have have shown great ambition by hosting the event.
Mowden stage National League at the 25,000-seat stadium which had lain dormant following Darlington FC’s financial collapse.
“We are really lucky Mowden have taken this stadium on, it’s a great venue,” said the stand-off.
“But this club has a good culture, it’s not just about the men’s First Team in National League.
“There are 21 teams who play out of Mowden Park and they all have their value and have their place.”
But tonight it’s all about England v Scotland on two fronts ahead of the big one at Twickenham tomorrow.