National allegiance will be temporarily suspended amongst Lark Davies’ relatives when England step up their pursuit of a fourth successive Tik Tok Women’s Six Nations title.
The Red Roses play their first home game of 2022 when they host Wales in front of a 12,000 crowd at Kingsholm on Saturday with one team poised to lose their perfect start to the tournament.
But while the Anglo-Welsh rivalry will burn as fiercely as ever on the pitch, Davies’ nearest and dearest will come out in full support of the Loughborough Lightning hooker as family loyalty trumps patriotic ties for one weekend only.
“My mum’s side are all Welsh and then my dad’s family go back to being Welsh too,” Davies told the PA news agency.
“But a lot of our family members will definitely be supporting England because that’s where their alliances lie!
“My mum and my sister would probably call themselves Welsh, but not when it comes to women’s rugby.
“My eldest sister swam for Wales and she still lives in Wales. My 92-year-old granny lives in Wales too.
“She gets a bit confused sometimes in terms of what team I’m playing for so I have to remind her – ‘I’m definitely English granny!’. They will all definitely be supporting us on Saturday.”
England are aiming to record a 21st successive victory in a sequence that includes two victories over world champions New Zealand.
In two rounds of the Six Nations they have amassed 21 tries and history points to a third victory being delivered in Gloucester against resurgent opponents who this year moved 12 players on to professional contracts for the first time.
England have not lost to their Celtic rivals since 2015, yet Davies insists her team-mates feel a responsibility beyond delivering results.
“The winning run is unbelievable and we don’t want to take a backwards step. I don’t see it as a burden at all. If anything it’s a challenge because we want to leave behind a special legacy of the team that we are,” she said.
“We want to inspire younger generations. We want people to watch the rugby we’re playing and talk about the Red Roses.
“We want to be a team that’s remembered not just for the results, but for the people that we are too.
“I come from a teaching background so if I get messages from parents of the children that I used to teach saying they tuned in to watch at the weekend, then that’s what it’s all about.”
While still early days, Wales’ move to professional contracts appears to have been reflected in their bonus-point victories over Ireland and Scotland.
Lark appreciates the value of being able to give up the day job after her decision to reduce her hours as a primary school teacher in Worcester ultimately led to being recruited full-time by England in 2019.
“I actually made the decision a year before getting a contract to go part time with teaching. I knew that I wanted to put more into rugby and give my all to it,” Davies said.
“Being a teacher as well as a rugby player was really difficult. I probably wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and I was rushing around, doing gym sessions and making sure I’d done the marking.
“Going part time was really difficult because there’s the financial impact of that, but it gave me more time to train, recover and do my analysis. After that was when I started to get capped more regularly.”
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