England rugby legend Alphonsi tips Breach for the top

England rugby legend and Land Rover ambassador Maggie Alphonsi with HITZ graduate Jess Whale
England rugby legend and Land Rover ambassador Maggie Alphonsi with HITZ graduate Jess Whale

West Sussex rugby star Jess Breach has the world at her feet if her try-scoring exploits in the Women’s Six Nations are anything to go by, insists Red Rose legend Maggie Alphonsi.

The 21-year-old from Chichester, who was one of 28 players awarded full-time contracts for 2019 in January, is the top scorer in this year’s Championship with five tries from three games.

She opened her account in the victory over Ireland at Donnybrook before scoring a double in the wins against France and Wales to put England on course for the title and a Grand Slam.

And having also impressed for England Sevens last year, Alphonsi believes the Harlequins winger possesses the confidence in her own ability to take her to the very top of the game.

“Jess Breach is only 21, so she’s still young, but she acts wise beyond her years and is scoring lots of tries,” said Alphonsi, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover during a HITZ session at The Rec to celebrate International Women’s Day.

“It helps she has experience around her. She previously would have played alongside the likes of Danielle Waterman and many other experienced backline players and that gives you confidence.

Jess Breach has been in flying form for the Red Roses in the Six Nations/ Picture by Getty Images for the RFU

Jess Breach has been in flying form for the Red Roses in the Six Nations/ Picture by Getty Images for the RFU

“She plays her club rugby at Harlequins so the former England Women’s coach Gary Street is there and that helps her, as she’s getting the knowledge and expertise there.

“But I kind of think to myself when I was 21 and got into the England squad I don’t remember being that confident or scoring that many tries - although I was a different position.

“When she plays she is incredibly confident and that’s great, you can’t coach confidence, it’s just something you have to build into your lifestyle and she’s got that now.

“She will be around for a long time. She’s come from sevens, so it’s good to see her in the 15s game, but the good thing is the world is her oyster.

“After the 15s World Cup she may go back to sevens, who knows, but she has got the talent and she is one of many others - Abigail Dow is another good one as well coming through.”

England opened up their campaign with a comfortable 51-7 victory against Ireland at Donnybrook in Dublin, before dispatching France 41-26 with seven tries at Castle Park.

A ruthless nine-try win against Wales in Cardiff moved them one step closer to the title, with only Italy and Scotland now standing in the way of a second Grand Slam triumph.

But Italy are only three points behind England in the table, having won two and drawn one, and Alphonsi expects the visitors to Sandy Park in Round Four to push the leaders all the way.

“The Italians will come out and they will be really up for this and if they can beat England then that would make their year, so they will throw everything at England,” she said.

“But I have just been really impressed with the way England have utilised a lot of their young players and how they have just stood up around some of those really experience players.

“I do think Italy will still push them, because Italy are currently sitting second in the table, and they beat Ireland which is absolutely huge for the Championship.

Breach is a wow against Wales

Another England game - another two tries for Breach

“I know what the Italians are like, similar to the French, they will play with a lot of ambition, they will come out and they will really push England to the edge really.

“Sometimes when I’ve seen Italy play they do score first, so England just have to make sure they start switched on and not ease themselves into the game.”

* Maggie Alphonsi is a Land Rover Ambassador. Land Rover is a key partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme that uses rugby to motivate young adults. Follow @LandRoverRugby