FORMER Red Rose Tamara Taylor believes England’s successful Autumn international campaign is further proof how far the sport has come in recent years.

Simon Middleton’s side came through their double-header with France and home match with Italy undefeated, securing a first victory on French soil for seven years in the process.

And Taylor, who is player-coach at Darlington Mowden Park Sharks in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, believes there has been an evident step up in class.

“Now we’re about a year into the professionalism in women’s rugby, we’re starting to see what that looks like within the England team,” the 38-year-old said.

“Most of the girls have now been together for almost a 12-month period, which we’ve never had before.

“For 28 players to be training together, playing more internationals together, I think the results over the Autumn international period have shown what that does for a team in terms of cohesiveness, skillsets and fitness as well.”

The Red Roses next challenge will be to retain their Six Nations title, which they secured earlier this year after cruising to a grand slam, and after November’s performances, Taylor thinks the signs look good.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the girls can do it again on the back of the Autumn, France have always been the biggest competitors, but England have now beaten them home and away this year.

“I think England are going to go into that game with a lot of confidence.”

The former World Cup winner was talking at a CBRE All Schools event at North Ribblesdale RUFC in North Yorkshire, where she was putting students from nearby Settle College through their paces.

After setting up the programme in 2012, the RFU recently introduced rugby to an incredible 750th state secondary school, with the number of women and girls registered to play rugby in clubs almost trebling since the initiative was introduced.

And Taylor believes it is initiatives like the All Schools programme which will see the sport grow even further, with the emphasis on giving girls the platform to play rugby all over the country.

“The All Schools programme is awesome because it goes into schools that don’t ordinarily play rugby, and offering children an opportunity to play a sport that’s maybe seen as a little bit different, especially for girls,” she said.

“I always look at things like this and think that would’ve been amazing if I had been an 11-year-old and was able to join a club or do some rugby at school.

“All of those grass roots clubs will be the ones that feed the players into the Tyrrells Premier 15s and into international rugby, so you wouldn’t have an England team if you didn’t have these sort of projects and these types of rugby clubs.”

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