How tighthead Sarah Bern and her fellow front-rowers are giving the Women’s Six Nations favourites plenty of go-forward
Sarah Bern the epitome of England Women’s modern props
Within two minutes of England’s 51-12 win over Wales in the Women’s Six Nations, Sarah Bern had barged through a handful of defenders to score her team’s opening try.
In the 29th minute, the tighthead prop produced an even more impressive score. Receiving the ball on the 22, she burst into space, stepped around one Welshwoman and then handed off Jasmine Joyce to score under the posts.
She thought she had completed the hat-trick with a close-range finish in the second half, only for the score to be ruled out for a knock-on by the TMO.
All in all, it was a mightily impressive performance from the 21-year-old, who was deservedly named Player of the Match.
Watch Bern’s standout second try here…
Bern does not want to be defined by the number on her shirt, particularly as she converted from back-row to prop, and relishes the opportunity to demonstrate her skills with ball in hand.
“I’m a back-row who has been taught how to scrummage and is a little heavier,” she smiles. “I think look at the rugby player rather than look at the position and don’t let anything stop you doing whatever you enjoy doing.
“I always like to break and have a little run with the ball and I got to do that a couple of times.
“I’ve always loved running and am pretty fast. That’s what they call my super-strength in the group, running with the ball. I don’t always get the chance to showcase that.”
Bern is one of a number of front-rowers in the England Women’s team who has that mobility with ball in hand.
Her replacement against Wales, Shaunagh Brown, is another converted back-rower who is a hugely powerful runner. Looseheads Vickii Cornborough and Hannah Botterman – a former centre – also have a strong skill-set in attack, as does hooker Amy Cokayne.
Related: Downtime with Amy Cokayne
Forwards coach Richard Blaze has been impressed with his front-row charges, while pointing out that with so many having changed position the focus for improvement is on set-piece technique.
“If you look at the squad, they’re the best athletes we’ve got,” says Blaze. “They’re good at ball-carrying, they’re aggressive and physical, and what we work on more is the technical side – the scrum, maul, lineout lifting.
“A lot of the girls are big and physical, and you’ve got to have bodies to win collisions and keep momentum.”
The age profile of the majority of those front-rowers also means that they will be around for a fair few years yet, the 2021 World Cup and beyond, so expect to see plenty more breaks and bursts from Bern and Co.
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