Former England player Gill Burns won the RWC in 1994

If those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then the future is promising for women’s rugby in England according to World Cup winner Gill Burns.

The former Red Roses skipper was part of the side that lifted the World Cup back in 1994 and has been a driving force for the development of the women’s game in this country and beyond ever since.

And as England continue their bid for yet another Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam – they are unbeaten in the tournament since 2018 – Burns has been impressed by how much those now thriving have shown an interest in those who paved the way.

“We had a couple of sessions where past players had gone and met the squad at training and the stories we have told for years over a pint in the bar, we know they are good stories and interesting, and suddenly the girls are absolutely amazed by what we had to do to play,” said Burns.

“When the young players ask us ‘Tell me more’ they want to know about the history and it’s important so that everybody appreciates what they get today. They are very privileged to be in the position they are in and they are looked after so well. It’s lovely that they doff their cap to the girls who have done it before and created the pathway.”

As part of her work helping to grow the women’s game, Burns was in attendance at Chester RUFC for England Rugby’s Play Together Stay Together scheme, with Chester Devas taking on Eccles.

Part of a festival of rugby, Burns watched players from Under 8s all the way up to seniors in action, in front of the RFU cameras, with the game streamed live on their channels.

And considering where the women’s game was when she took it up more than 30 years ago, Burns was blown away by how far it has come.

She added: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone who has been involved, from the little kids who are running around in the morning, through the age groups. They are going to have links to footage of the day which is really special. They can share it with their friends, family and beyond. I think so many people are going to be able to see it that it will help to grow the game. Let’s hope it is a boost for everybody.

“The fact that all these young adults who are playing, a lot of them have been rugby players for 10-15 years so it’s inevitable if young girls are playing, their skills are better and by the time they are adults, it’s a spectacle that we all want to see. Nobody should ever criticise a beginner playing a sport but that’s what it was 30-40 years ago when we started the game. Now, thankfully, beginners are welcome into the squad with girls who have played from an early age and they are progressing fast because people around them know what the game of rugby is about. It’s good, it’s skilful, it’s fast and most importantly, it’s enjoyable.

“The sport needs to keep growing and keep sharing. Days like today, it gives people around the world to see the women’s game, see it at community level and make it accessible to keep spreading the good news.”

Play Together Stay Together is an England Rugby campaign to encourage people to get back into rugby. Want to get back to the action? Find your local rugby club using

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