England Champions of the World, England Women World Cup Champions, England Women World Cup Winners, however you choose to phrase it, we will never tire of hearing it. For Gary Street, his squad and the entire backroom team their road to victory was long and arduous however last night's reward soothed all of the pain and heartache and truly means the world. In Paris I hope that the party continued long into the night, for nights like that are few and far between and must be cherished. In England this morning we woke to the sight of Katy McLean and her team on the front pages of the newspapers; The Independent, The Telegraph and The Times all proudly displayed the image that will go down in the history of rugby and that in itself is a defining moment for the Women's game. Over the past 17 days we have witnessed Women's rugby take centre stage and receive coverage far greater than I believe anyone closely involved with the game would have expected. Sports bulletins, radio shows and papers were odd ones out if they didn't have news of the Women's Rugby World Cup and this morning's headlines are the pinnacle of that.
In today's society young girls are bombarded by images of women to aspire to, most are 'celebrities' associated with reality television programmes or are models, of all kinds, however I hope that this Women's Rugby World Cup along with other sports are inspiring our youth. Sport, and indeed rugby, gives and teaches so much to those that are involved in the game. Discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership are all key lessons learned through participation and another extremely important feature is that lifelong friends are made in the process. It sounds cliché however if you have ever played in a team sport you will know exactly what I mean, the bonds that you develop are akin to the closeness of a family. As a team you spend hours working together to achieve something, whether that be your first ever win, your first clean sheet or up indeed a World Cup Winners Medal. Nothing comes close to matching the relationships that you develop and it is my hope that young women everywhere now wish to experience this because of witnessing tournaments like this one.
This 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup has showcased Women's Rugby in its full glory and I wish that it has erased many unfounded and longstanding stigmas surrounding the game. As Danielle Waterman said with her winners medal around her neck, the girls she coaches are the future of the game and if her and this World Cup Winning side have inspired them then they have positioned the game it a great place to push on and develop. Of course the term professionalisation will be discussed at length now; personally I'm not knowledgeable enough about the intricacies of the amateur to professional pathway to be able to comment fully on this however I hope that it is in the pipeline for the fastest growing women's sport in the world.
Over the course of this tournament England Women have placed Women's Rugby at the forefront of everyone's minds, they have given young women new role models to aspire to, they have showcased to the world their athleticism and skills and have achieved their dreams in the process. These are all defining moments for the sport and the biggest wish is that this Women's Rugby World Cup catapults the sport forward in the UK and across the world and leaves a legacy that changes the Women's Rugby, for the better, forever.