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Millie Wood enjoying every moment of Women’s Rugby Super Series

Gloucester-Hartpury Women's News

10 July 2019

Duncan Wood

Millie Wood
Millie Wood (c) Travis Prior

It’s been quite some season for Gloucester-Hartpury’s Millie Wood. And it’s been a whirlwind past few weeks. But it’s not over just yet, and she will be part of the England Women squad to take on France in the latest round of Women’s Rugby Super Series action on Wednesday.

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Having been part of the England Women Sevens set-up, Millie returned to her home county last summer and signed on for Gloucester-Hartpury to experience her first taste of Tyrrells Premier 15s action.

And it’s fair to say that it went pretty well domestically as she earned Player of the Season honours at the club’s end of season awards dinner.

International recognition also followed, as she added to her tally of international caps during the Autumn internationals.

Then came a call-up to the Barbarians squad, a career highlight for any player, and she had the unusual experience of playing against her international team-mates at Twickenham before earning selection for England’s current tour.

Millie Wood

Millie Wood (c) Travis Prior

She’s featured in both games to date, starting against Canada last weekend, and admitted that it’s been high intensity rugby so far.

“It’s certainly been a testing start, and the last game against Canada went down to the wire and we only retook the lead in the last few minutes. We’d had a long look at them coming into the game, and we could see that they’ve been improving steadily recently, and they were a different proposition from the team we played back in the Autumn.

“We knew that we’d be in a proper test match, and they certainly brought it on the day. It was a physical test right up until the 80th minute. The pressure was pretty incessant, and there was never a moment when we could relax.

“But we stuck at it, we had to stay switched on for the whole game and we managed to pull it out of the bag. And now we’re looking forward to the France game.”

England defeated France in the Six Nations meeting a few months ago, but it’s a different looking French squad in San Diego and they will be coming into the game off the back of a memorable victory over the Black Ferns.

“We’ll be making a few changes, tactics and personnel, and will be hoping to continue our winning streak. France have shown what they’re capable of with their win over New Zealand though, so we know that we’re in for another tough game.

“We know how threatening they can be, particularly with their kick returns which is something we have to be aware of. But we’ve been working on some things, and we back ourselves and our skills. Hopefully, it’ll be enough on the day.”

Head Coach Simon Middleton has rotated his selection for the games so far, and does so again against France. Millie admits that it’s been necessary to share the workload.

“Definitely. We’ve taken a few knocks, which is part and parcel of the modern game. It was sad to see Mo (Hunt) have to go home for example.

“So, we have had to use the whole squad and we’ve even had to change things on the pitch with a few players playing out of position at times. But that’s credit to the players themselves and the quality that we have in the squad.”

One thing that has been evident, is that Millie is relishing testing herself on the biggest stages against the world’s best.

“I always try and take every moment as it comes. I really enjoyed the Barbarians game and tried to play the game with that Barbarians mentality. I think it’s helped to make me a slightly different player, to add something to my game.

“I’ve just loved being out here and being part of it. I’m trying to make the most of every training session, do myself justice and bring something to the team.”

France are next up. New Zealand are next. It’s as close as possible to playing a World Cup and Millie admits that it’s exactly the challenge that the squad was hoping for.

“Simon Middleton has spoken about that, how playing one game, having a week off and then playing three games in eight days is perfect preparation for a tournament like the World Cup.

“The way we deal with these games over here is a big test, certainly on the body when there’s not too much time to recover between games. It’s a great experience and hugely valuable.”

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