EXCLUSIVE: England's Emily Scarratt on the march of women's rugby and the 'title deciding' Six Nations clash against France this weekend
England rugby's vice captain Emily Scarratt has said what a 'tough and tight' game their Six Nations match will be against France this weekend.
England travel to Pau to face the French on Sunday, a match that has already been dubbed the 'title decider', something Scarratt agrees with but not in the way some would think.
"It's the title decider for us because it's our first game. That would be the same whoever we were playing.
"If you want to win the Six Nations you want to go out there and win every game, so that's no different here. It's obviously going to be tough.
"Winning it at the death at Sandy Park [in November], winning by a couple of points, they are tough tight games. We know it's going to be difficult and it's not an easy ride, especially with however many thousand French fans screaming for them, it will be difficult."
The French are famous for attracting big crowds to women's rugby but England are also starting to turn the tide. In last year's Six Nations, the women in white broke the attendance record for a Six Nations match after 10,545 fans descended on Sandy Park in Exeter to watch them beat Italy 55-0.
For Scarratt though, the turning point came nine years earlier.
"We're constantly seeing a popularity shift though 2010 was the breaking of the ceiling moment when we hosted the World Cup and almost sold out The Stoop.
"From then it's kicked on. The amount of clubs that have sides throughout all ages across the country is amazing. The Rugby Football Union are running those Inner Warrior campaigns to get people more active and involved in rugby, it's awesome.
"The more we play across the country as well, the more we can push boundaries. People couldn't get tickets to watch us in some games [in the autumn] and I don't think that's happened before. We need to keep pushing."
Scarratt is certainly pushing boundaries across the board within rugby. She recently won the Women's Player of the Year award with stars such as Maro Itoje congratulating her on her achievement. Does the accolade add pressure to her pitch performance?
"It's definitely amazing that I won it. I was incredibly humbled by that. Obviously you don't want to be rubbish on the pitch, you want to make sure you're living up to that [standard].
"But this team is full of some awesome players and having amazing people around you makes life a lot easier. The French side are very similar, there's a lot of influential and amazing players on both sides which will hopefully tee this up to be a pretty good one."
France vs England will kick off at 12.30pm on Sunday and is available to watch on Sky Sports.