‘Phenomenal’ Jess Breach lauded after starring for England in Six Nations Grand Slam
England talent Jess Breach has the world at her feet after helping her country to a women’s Six Nations Grand Slam, according to team-mate Vickii Cornborough.
Breach, just 21, from Chichester, scored nine tries in five games as the Red Rose completed the clean sweep, writes James Ayles.
She also scored 11 times in her first two international appearances back in 2017, and Cornborough believes there is no limit to the former Chichester Rugby Club wing’s potential, having also won a Commonwealth bronze medal with the sevens team on the Gold Coast in 2018.
Cornborough, 29, said: ‘What she has managed to achieve is phenomenal, it is unbelievable. The record of the number of tries to caps she has set so far is incredible.
‘She has dealt with the pressure of that so well. She has grown so much more as a player and her skill level is unbelievable.
‘That is something that, away from the cameras, away from prying eyes, she has been practising those small skills.’
England’s 55-0 victory over Italy in the penultimate match of their Six Nations campaign – in which both Breach and Cornborough scored - was watched by a Six Nations-record crowd of 10,545 at Sandy Park in Exeter.
Now Cornborough has her eyes on a domestic record crowd when Harlequins host Gloucester-Hartpury in the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s on Saturday.
The west London club already holds the domestic attendance record of 4,542 after last season’s victory over local rivals Richmond, but are confident of beating it once more.
With Harlequins second in the table behind reigning champions Saracens, they are focused on lifting the title this season.
Cornborough said: ‘The RFU have done a phenomenal job of setting these pathways up.
‘The Premier 15s couldn’t have gone much better and it really is a sign of how much women’s rugby is flourishing in this country.
‘It is a really competitive league now and there is a real fight on for the top places now we are the business end of the season.
‘The match on Saturday will be just incredible to play in and the crowd are so important to us.’
Prop Cornborough and Breach were among 28 players awarded full-time XVs contracts by the RFU in January, as part of its efforts to increase professionalism within the women’s game.
The forward, who has 46 caps to her name, believes her progression to the paid ranks, and the quality of those following in her footsteps, is just a sign of what is to come for the sport in this country.
Cornborough added: ‘I don’t think there are any limits for any of us. Across the board, we have so much potential and I think you are just seeing the first glimpses of what our potential is.
‘You have got such a good mix both with Harlequins and England, of younger and more experienced players.
‘You’ve got such a good depth and breadth of talent and the sky really is the limit for all of us.’
Cornborough grew up in Portsmouth and played for Portsmouth Rugby Club as a youngster.
To this day she retains an appreciation of the role the club in her early development.
She said: ‘Where I started and where I first learned to play rugby is such a fundamental part of my career and my evolution.
‘I still go back to Portsmouth, I still have good links to the club, I still talk to my old coaches who tell me they taught me everything I know!
‘For me, everybody has to start somewhere and I was always very well-supported as a youngster, I know my origins and the next generation are all going to start in clubs like that.’
Harlequins are attempting to make history this month by breaking their own record for the highest attendance at a women’s club rugby match in the UK with The Game Changer. Ticket prices start at £5 for juniors and £10 for adults and can be purchased here.