Harpenden and the county ‘a great source of talent’ says proud Sarah McKenna
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
Sarah McKenna says the fact that four of the England squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup were schoolboys in her own Harpenden is “awesome”.
Home-town hero Jack Singleton has joined fellow Harpenden St George's pupils Maro Itoje, George Ford and skipper Owen Farrell in the squad of 31.
And for McKenna, who like the quartet used to don the black and white hoops as a junior at Harpenden's Redbourn Lane-based club, that just shows the strength and depth of talent not just in the town but the whole county as well.
She said: "It's awesome and I'm incredibly proud to have played at Harpenden myself between six and 12. I know what a great club it is and it was a great place to be.
"The great thing abut Harpenden is the strong competition elsewhere. Hertfordshire as a whole is a great source of rugby talent and so from an early age teams are pushing each other and making themselves and their individuals better.
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"And when you walk across the Common you often see people with rugby balls and not footballs. You don't have jumpers for goalposts, you have jumpers for try-lines.
"That's what's so great about Harpenden and now they've got that 4G pitch, it can transform the club.
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"The mini section has always been unbelievably strong and they can now build up their senior side too."
McKenna enjoyed a season studded with silverware for both Saracens and England, form that puts her firmly in the conversation when it comes to the top players in the women's game.
However, for all her experience and knowledge, she reverts to a typically nervous fan when asked to predict England's fate in Japan.
She said: "They've got a fantastic mix of youth and drive and ambition and they were awesome in that first warm-up game with Wales.
"But England do sometimes lose their way in games and lose their momentum but as long as they manage those crucial times in matches they will do well.
"And with the ambition they are playing with there is no reason for them not to shine.
"On their best days they can turn teams inside out and nobody can touch them. Once they got on that roll they are very hard to catch back up."