Emily Scarratt will enter her fourth World Cup after witnessing a radical transformation in women’s football.
The England star center is set to be an influential figure in New Zealand this autumn when Simon Middleton’s side aim to become world champions for a third time.
Scarratt was among the heroes of 2014, finishing as the tournament’s top points scorer, but also appeared at the 2010 and 2017 World Cups in a career that boasts 103 caps despite a long hiatus to play sevens.
For this event, England are the overwhelming favourites, possessing a record 25 Test winners and the most professional set-up, including the use of full-time contracts which have helped create unparalleled depth.
“The game has changed a lot. You can watch it from so many different angles,” Scarratt told the PA news agency.
“Fundamentally, the time we spend together in preparation is hugely different to 2010. Things like kit supply, the way we travel, where we stay.
“The biggest thing we have now is the support network we have with the fans. It was great to play a few home warm-up games in front of 10,000 people.
“In the past, we had this for a World Cup final, not for the warm-up match before it. It’s really exciting.
“And it’s scary how the quality has increased on the pitch. Some of these youngsters are running around – they’re super fast, super talented and super skilled. It’s a brilliant place.
“Our national championship took off, which obviously helped bring in players quickly.
“We were part of the 2017 final which was one of the best World Cup finals in terms of quality.
“Obviously we would have preferred to be on the safe side of the outcome rather than being part of a fantastic show, but you see the quality is there.”
Scarratt’s own joy at finding out she had been included in the team was tempered by learning that her longtime friend and teammate Natasha Hunt had failed to make the cut.
Middleton, the head coach of the Red Roses, has explained that Hunt’s style of play is at odds with what he expects from the position, which means the starting nine in the last two World Cup finals will not will not be present in New Zealand.
“She’s gutted and I’m gutted for her because she’s my best friend. No matter the rugby side of things, you want those people around you,” Scarratt said.