Dream Twickenham date will not distract Kingston's Chamberlain

Local hero: Abigail Chamberlain on her England Women debut against Scotland

Local hero: Abigail Chamberlain on her England Women debut against Scotland

First published in Sport Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Richmond outside centre Abigail Chamberlain may have scored twice on her England Women debut last week, but she is not about to take international rugby for granted.
 

The 28-year-old – and clubmates Emma Croker, fit-again Fiona Pocock and Rebecca Essex – helped beat Scotland 76-0 at Esher RFC in their Six Nations opener, hours before Harlequins skipper Chris Robshaw lifted the Calcutta Cup after the men beat the Auld Enemy 38-18 at Twickenham.
 

Chamberlain, a former student at Richmond College, is in the starting line-up to face Ireland today, with the carrot of retaining her place when France visit the home of English rugby later this month.
 

The West London College sports science lecturer, who grew up in Kingston, has played the famous ground once before in a British University Sports Association final with Loughborough University.
 

But, while representing England a few miles from her club and home is a mouthwatering prospect, she is not distracted from the job in hand.

“I played at Twickenham as a student, but to play in an England shirt there in front of friends and family would be amazing,” she said.
 

“I would not say playing international rugby was easy.  The result at the weekend really didn’t reflect the game.

“Of course, you think about France, but we have a job to do in Ireland that we have to be 100 per cent focused on.
 

“I’ve never played them before but I’ve heard they step up their game when they play England.”
 

Chamberlain, who only took up the sport seven years ago, was up against Richmond’s Scotland contingent – second row Lindsay Wheeler, openside Tess Forsberg, number eight Susie Brown, centre Annabel Sergeant – at the weekend.
 

But the former Tolworth Girls’ School student had no sympathy for her clubmates.
 

“For the first 20 minutes we didn’t have the ball and we had to produce our best rugby,” she added.
 

“You cannot think about who you are up against.”
 

Richmond, English champions for the past three seasons, are currently second in the Women’s Premiership behind leaders Worcester.
 

And Chamberlain admitted they might find it difficult to claim a fourth successive title this season.
 

“We have put up a good fight, but the injuries and absences we’ve had has meant we’ve used more than 40 players in the first team this season,”she said.
 

“Our strength in depth for next year should be very good.”

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