England's skipper is ambitious for their future at Twickenham
Red Roses skipper Marlie Packer thanked the record crowd of 58,498 fans who cheered England on after their Grand Slam victory against France in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
After a tentative 20 minutes, the hosts began their assault at Twickenham scoring five tries before the break. France bit back in an attempt to heal their wounds after five years of defeat at English hands, but the Roses held on to clinch a 38-33 win.
With their first standalone Test at Twickenham now under the belt, Packer believes that it won’t take until 2025 for England women to break more history.
The flanker said: “I want to sell out Twickenham. I believe we can do it and I believe we can do it probably before 2025 and that World Cup final.
“Look at today – 58,000 people. We weren’t a curtain raiser, it was all about us.
“Everything’s on the rise, more tickets will be sold and more stadiums will sell out.
“The other nations are all closing the gap and getting professional contracts so the quality of rugby you’re getting to see across the game [is growing]. It’s not just those England France games.”
The previous record for a women’s international test match was set at last year’s Rugby World Cup final when England narrowly lost to New Zealand in front of 42,579 people.
Packer praised this new achievement at Twickenham as a watershed moment for women’s rugby and noted the impact of such a turnout.
“The crowd today was so positive, they were right behind us every step of the way. I don’t think any of us have ever played in front of a crowd like that before.
“It was very special. I can’t thank [the fans] enough for being our sixteenth man today.
“It would be great to play at Twickenham every time and that will come in time but we need to keep building the fanbase and the product of our rugby.
“That’s down to us players and the product that we put on the pitch that makes people want to come and watch. And I think 58,000 people will want to come back and watch after today.”
Head coach Simon Middleton echoed Packer’s thoughts as he signed off after eight years in the job.
“We couldn’t have wished for a better stage to go out on but it’s not the end of the road.
“You’ve got to keep putting new energy and new ideas into the group.
“It’s been brilliant but it’s definitely the right decision for everybody. You shouldn’t be afraid of change and we’re going to see a lot of change.
“The key part is we feed off of what’s happened today. We [used to have to] to fight for grounds to play in and we had to really work to get our product on the field.
“This has to be the benchmark now.”
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