No Longer the Apprentice Richardson Returns to Twickenham Stoop

Helen Richardson checks the side line paperwork with Army Referee, Nikki O’Donnell
Keeping an eye on the action
Helen Richardson with from left to right, Beth Dainton (Army and Wales), Bee Dawson (Army and England), Helen, Gemma Rowland (Army and Wales), Sian Williams (RAF and Wales)

A little over twelve months ago CPOPT Helen Richardson watched England Women defeat Italy in the last match for the then England Women’s Team Manager, Janette Shaw, at the Twickenham Stoop.  She was more than a spectator because as Janette stood down, so Helen stepped up to the role of England Women’s Team Manager.  On that afternoon England had bounced back from a loss to Wales, and it was Wales who were to be the opposition upon her return when England played their last home fixture of the 2016 Women’s Six Nations Championship.  Helen was able to watch her side secure a 20-13 victory to keep their title aspirations alive.  Though they were to miss out in the end to France, it has been a successful first year as Team Manager for Helen, where England have blooded a number of youngsters as some of the more established players were released to focus on preparations for the rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

If the first twelve months have been busy, the tempo is not set to let up as preparations begin to ramp up for the Women’s World Cup, to be held in Dublin and Belfast in August 2017.  By then the depth in the England Women’s squad should be impressive as this season’s crop of talented youngsters are melded with those returning from Rio.  Two of the players whose development Helen has seen at close quarters are likely to be lining up against the Navy Women in the forthcoming Inter Services.  RAF Reservist, Amy Cokayne, and Army player, Bee Dawson, have both had a successful season coming off the bench for England.

Following a short Summer tour England will get a feel for the World Cup venue when they travel to Ireland as part of the 2017 Six nations before in August they return to Ireland to defend the World Cup they won when they defeated Canada 21-9 at the 7th World Cup hosted by France.  A busy eighteen months for Helen beckons.

Images by Alligin Photography / © John Walton