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MacDonald hoping Rugby World Cup final can inspire next generation

Claudia MacDonald

Claudia MacDonald hopes a new generation of rugby players will be inspired as England take on New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final.

The Red Roses are looking to avenge their 41-32 defeat at the same stage five years ago, which saw the Black Ferns wrestle back the crown they lost in 2014.

England come into the game as favourites against the defending champions, in large part thanks to a 30-match winning streak that saw them claim a sixteenth Grand Slam in the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations in April.

But winger MacDonald knows whatever happens on Saturday, her side’s achievements extend beyond just the rugby pitch.

“So much of what you do on a world stage is about inspiring the next generation of young girls and young boys that are watching to pick up a rugby ball and go play,” said MacDonald

“We might be on the other side of the world, but the amount of following back in England has been huge, it’s been immense.

“I just hope that the amount of people seeing it, and seeing us succeed and playing exciting rugby, is going to have that switch of more people being involved in the sport and pursuing it to see what they want to achieve.

“That’s what we want to see, the new people coming through who are going to love it and put their everything into the game.”

England opened their tournament in New Zealand with a comfortable win against Fiji, with MacDonald running in four tries, before edging a tough encounter with France 13-7 in Whangarei.

Wins against South Africa and Australia set up a semi-final with Canada, which saw the Red Roses given their sternest test yet, sneaking through 26-19.

After the game, head coach Simon Middleton insisted England must improve if they are to win back their title, but MacDonald knows they have what it takes if they lift their game and is relishing the prospect of facing a partisan crowd in Auckland.

“We’re fortunate to be in a World Cup final, it could have been against anyone, but to be playing New Zealand in New Zealand is something pretty special and we’re certainly looking forward to it,” she added.

“If we can put our best foot forward, we’ve got full trust in our process and game plan and the work we’ve put in.

“If we put out the best performance we’re capable of, we can be relatively confident that that’s going to give us a pretty good shot.”