England rugby star Jess switches to sevens

Jess Breach on the attack for England / Picture: RFU Collection via Getty Images
Jess Breach on the attack for England / Picture: RFU Collection via Getty Images

Chichester’s Jess Breach is switching from 15-a-side rugby to sevens for the next stae of her England career.

The 20-year-old has joined the England women sevens programme for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.

The Red Roses and Harlequins Ladies wing will join the squad who have HSBC World Rugby World Women’s Series events, the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup Sevens to look forward to later this year.

Breach scored six tries on her England debut against Canada and has 11 tries in her two full international matches, while she also is the leading try scorer in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, with 16 times so far.

Breach told englandrugby.com: “I was really excited to do the Six Nations after the autumn internationals but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to potentially go to the Commonwealth Games and then the World Cup. So I think just the opportunity to have a go and challenge myself made me choose this option.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people - my family, Harlequins, both Simons (Middleton and Amor) and no-one pushed me either way, they were just discussions about pros and cons.”

I think the opportunity to have a go and challenge myself made me choose this option.

Jess Breach

Breach has sevens experience, having won the European Championship twice with the under-18s and made her debut for the England women sevens team in the final World Series event of last season in Clermont, where she helped the team qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

As well as her XVs commitments, she has been part of the sevens set-up as one of the university contracted players.

Head of England Sevens Simon Amor is looking forward to her switching.

“Jess has really excelled for both Harlequins Ladies and the senior England Women team in the Old Mutual Wealth Series, which has been fantastic to see and demonstrates great collaboration on developing a young talented player,” he said.

“The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Series has increased by 50 per cent in the past two years in terms of intensity and fitness, which is massive. As we are managing some injuries in the women’s sevens squad, we felt it best to open up this opportunity to Jess as we continue to build the squad for Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens.

“The challenge now is to get Jess sevens fit to give her the best chance of being selected for the Commonwealth Games.”

Head of women’s performance Nicky Ponsford added: “This is a great opportunity for Jess and testament to both women’s programmes, 15s and sevens, working together to support Jess as she continues to develop as a rugby player.

“From a 15s perspective, we have a strong player pathway in place alongside the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition which has unearthed new and exciting talent this season. We are looking forward getting preparations underway with the training squad for the upcoming Six Nations, which will be a challenging yet exciting tournament.”

As a talented hurdler in her youth, Breach represented England Schools and although her raw pace has helped her try-scoring feats this season she is looking forward to developing other aspects of her game.

“I’m doing it because I love the game of rugby,” she said. “Sevens is really exciting and it has lots more space and a lot more time and allows me to use me assets a bit more.

“I’m obviously still developing as I’m only 20 years old and coming into the game I’ve got a lot of things to learn, but it’s been a good start and I can hopefully keep going up from it, get better, learn new things and develop as a player.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to go to lots of different countries and venues but I’m not doing it for that reason, I’m doing it because I love the game of rugby and the feel of it.”