Six Nations of Women: Emily Scarratt’s journey to 100 England caps

Emily Scarratt playing for England in 2009
Emily Scarratt, 18 years old, made her England debut in 2008.
Venue: Welford Road, Leicester Date: Sunday, April 24, 2008 Kick-off: 12:00 BST
Coverage: BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and BBC Sport App. Live text commentary.

Emily Scarratt will wear her 100th cap in a very different way than her first.

Instead of the approximately 100 supporters at Esher, a third-tier club in 2008 she will face a record crowd of 15,000 at a Premiership ground near her home in Leicester.

Her debut 18-year old nervous self was replaced by a 32-year-old calm and self-assured individual who is described as the glue that holds England together.

It was also important that she was able to call up while she was in Cyprus on a holiday with friends, and not with a Red Roses team.

Scarratt recalls when Gary Street, England's head coach, called her to ask her to join him for England.

The Red Roses squad included the centre for the 2008 Nations Cup. She made her debut against the United States.

She jokes that “the rest of the holiday took an entirely different slant for us.”

“The rest were still having a blast, but I had the nerve to slow it down.”

Scarratt was ‘incredibly proud' of growing game

It turns out, it was worth it to endure the muted celebrations of exam results.

Scarratt recalls what it was like to be a player for England fourteen years ago. He paints a picture with “big and baggy” kit, “old and stuffy”, changing rooms and a crowd that is largely composed of friends.

She will be greeted at Welford road on Sunday by a completely different scene

This will be Scarratt's significant role in the Red Roses' record attendance.

She is England's top scorer on points (652), with 51 attempts to her credit.

Scarratt's skills on the field have helped her win eight Six Nations titles and a World Cup title. She also won the World Rugby player of the Year award.

The Loughborough Lightning Back is one of the most prominent faces in the sport. He has made numerous appearances on TV as a pundit, as well as hosting a popular podcast.

Sarah Hunter, England captain, describes her as an “all around incredible person” because of “what she has done to help the women's soccer game move forward.”

This week, Scarratt's head coach Simon Middleton was joined by forwards coach Louis Deacon.

Deacon describes her as the glue that holds England together. Middleton calls her the “ultimate big game player” and adds “there's nothing he can't do”.

Scarratt admits she has helped to raise women's rugby's profile, but it is a sign of her humility.

She reflects on how “The game is a far cry from its beginnings and I am incredibly proud to have been able to witness that growth.”

“When I wore that shirt back in 2008, I had no idea I'd end up sitting here today and running out in front thousands of people.”

Welford Road 100: “The best script possible”

Emily Scarratt scores a try
Scarratt scored a try when England defeated Canada in the 2014 World Cup final

Scarratt, despite being in Sunday's starting squad, still claims she is “potentially” not playing. She refuses to acknowledge the milestone until she is on the pitch.

After suffering a severe leg injury in September, she was able to recover quickly and return to Six Nations in time. She knows how quickly things can change.

Scarratt's path to her 100th cap was full of twists and turns. Scarratt, who was 16 years old, turned down a scholarship to play basketball in the United States. If she had said yes, she would probably have been playing in WNBA.

She is also a fan of sevens and was captain of Team GB at Rio 2016 with England, winning Commonwealth bronze.

Scarratt appears to be at the exact right place, despite all the other options available for such a natural athlete.

Scarratt began rugby when she was five years old. She also had a Leicester Tigers Season ticket as a child. This allowed her to win her 100th cap at Welford Road.

She said, “If it were up to you to make it as good as it could be, it would be the script.”

“I don’t know who’s writing my scripts right now, but I certainly owe them one or two beers. It's going be something special.”

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