England women draw inspiration from football team

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Ranked No1 in the world women's game and riding a record of 25 consecutive Test victories, they open their Cup bid by playing one of the tournament's newcomers, Fiji.


Halfback Leanne Infante said like all the teams competing, England wanted to show women's rugby was exciting to watch, and backing what their football contemporaries, [known as the Lionesses] did, would have a big effect.


She told BBC Sport, "The Lionesses attracted such a huge crowd [87,192 at their Wembley final in July]. I wasn't a women's football fan before that, but tuning in and getting behind them, from a woman's perspective, was huge, and I think a lot of people did that.


"If we can have that same influence – people might not have ever watched women's rugby before but they have that opportunity to tune in."


Winning the Cup would also help when they return home to play a stand-alone fixture at Twickenham against France in the Women's Six Nations. A Cup win would be a catalyst to building on their record ticket sales of 15,836 when England beat Ireland in Leicester earlier this year.


"Thinking about where we are now as a sport and what we could return to, we want to push ourselves.

"When we get the opportunity to bring that back to England, we're on the road with the Six Nations fixtures and, hopefully, we can drum up more interest and keep building on it.


"It just feels really special at the moment to be part of."


England captain Sarah Hunter, who tasted World Cup success in 2014, was more conservative in her comments. Winning the World Cup would mean everything, but they couldn't afford to get ahead of themselves.


"We're very process-focused in the fact we've got three pool games, and we need to take each of them as they come. The pool finishes, and we'll deal with the quarters if they come.


"As soon as you start to get ahead of yourself, complacency kicks in, and that's when you are not focused as you should be. That's when results could happen that you don't want.


"We're under no illusion this is going to be the most competitive World Cup yet. You look around at the preparation every team has had, and they've had more time together in the build-up than ever.


"It's going to be a real challenge. But, we've set ourselves out that this is what we want to do. We want to top off that 25-games and really put ourselves down in history. We want to win the big shiny thing at the end," she said.


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