An England Women’s rugby union star from Merseyside has described the obstacles she overcame to make it ahead of her side’s Six Nations kick off next month.

Sarah Beckett will line up against Italy on 24th March having made the move from her native Liverpool to Harlequins in 2019 to improve her chances.

The 25-year-old has rugby running through her family, brother Charlie plays in the RFU Championship for Ampthill, and she says her move south kick-started her professional career. 

“I started out at Waterloo RFC until I moved down south and joined Harlequins,” she said.

“I really enjoyed my time there, but after three seasons I took a step and went to Gloucester-Hartpury Women.

“Is becoming a rugby player in the north harder than it is in the south? I’d say so.”

It’s a path trodden by many players due to where the rugby-central hubs are based. A lot of them are in the south. 

“It’s harder to become a professional player in the north because of the pathways and where the central hubs are based, it’s the same in the men’s game,” Beckett said.  

“I think it’s very difficult, the geographical spread of the league is a difficult one to get right”.

With the difficulty a northern/southern divide presents, Beckett admits more players in the north are persuaded to take-up rugby league.

But the increase in viewership the women’s game has enjoyed, especially in the build-up to this year’s Women’s Six Nations, has been hugely beneficial for the game.

This has calmed fears playing it at a different time to the men’s tournament would dilute interest. 

“Having the two tournaments being played at different times has definitely helped the viewership,” explained Beckett.  

“It’s allowed people to realise that the game is just rugby. It gives people a chance to either watch in person or watch on TV.

“Four-and-a-half years ago there were a few thousand fans, and now to just a home game it’s 10,000 – 15,000 fans, even 60,000 on a big match.”

This huge increase of viewership has only helped the normalisation of women’s sport, and how much it has progressed in the past five years.

From players thinking they’ll never see a fan base in their career, to playing in front of 50,000 fans has only helped their own progression as well as the numerous clubs. 

“Getting 50,000 fans at England Vs France in 2023 was incredible. No one thought we’d get that in our lifetime let alone our career,” Beckett said. 

“Four years ago I don’t think people would have bothered about women’s rugby, but now because it’s on TV more, it’s reported more and it’s growing on social media, it’s becoming popular/easier to get into.”

The Red Roses players pride themselves on setting an example to young girls who want to play sport.

Beckett said: “In particular with women’s rugby, it’s something we pride ourselves on. Staying out after games, signing autographs and speaking to the kids,.

“It’s part of our centralised contracts with the RFU, as a community engagement piece that we’re linked to a club. We do events with them in the season.

“They might want a Q&A, they might want coaching or support in fundraising. It’s a very fluid link of what you can offer and what they need. 

“We’re pretty good with trying to encourage the youth sections”.