'35 Wins & Counting' - England's Unbeaten Wing Jess Breach Aims to Continue Winning Streak In Against Scotland - Ruck

’35 Wins & Counting’ – England’s Unbeaten Wing Jess Breach Aims to Continue Winning Streak In Against Scotland

One of the most unique accolades within the test match rugby sphere, is England wing Jess Breach’s unbeaten run with the Red Roses. Breached made her debut for the Red Roses in unforgettable fashion, as she scored six tries against Canada to kick off her international career in 2017.

Now fast forward seven years and Breach has been named to start on the left wing for England’s trip to Edinburgh, as the Red Roses play Scotland this Saturday in the 2024 Women’s Six Nations. As Breach is eyeing up her 36th cap for the Red Roses, the Saracen is also hoping to make her 36th straight win in the England shirt.

Jess Breach of England Red Roses before the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23rd Sept 2023. Photo: Izzy Ninnis/PPAUK

Breach explained the interesting feat, as England’s lucky omen is yet to experience defeat with the Red Roses. The last time England lost a match was the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup Final (played in 2022), where they were narrowly felled by the Black Ferns, in a 34-31 classic. Breach missed out on that fixture, and discussed her unique experience of a 100% win rate with England in today’s press conference.

“How weird, I literally said that yesterday. That is so weird. Yes, true 35 games.”

“I think I only really thought about it when I think England rugby, or our new Red Roses page posted about Marlie, her winning streak to lose streak. And I thought ‘I don’t think I’ve lost in a white shirt’. And then I was like, ‘No, I definitely haven’t’. So yeah, no, I think yes, it’s something to be pretty honoured about. But I think I don’t think about that. I just think about every game and trying to get as many caps as possible.

Jess Breach of England Women during the Guinness WomenÕs Six Nations Match between England Women and Wales Women at Ashton Gate, Bristol on the 30 March 2024. PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“Like, for instance, Zoe (Harrison) potentially might make her 50th next weekend, and we obviously got (debut) capped together. But we both had injuries, I went away to sevens. So, you know, I want to get that milestone, next. And I think it’s pretty cool that she’s going to be able to do that. And I’ve been there for probably most of the 50 caps that hopefully she’ll get next weekend.”

As Breach mentioned, her Saracens teammate and best friend Zoe Harrison is closing in on the half century of Red Roses appearances, with Harrison’s 50th cap set to come in over the horizon when England play Ireland at Twickenham next weekend. The Sarries friendship has been well documented with the duo’s various TikTok videos, yet Breach explained how the camaraderie goes much deeper than what is seen on the surface.

Breach explained how everyone in the Red Roses camp has that certain teammate that they can confide in on a higher level. The Saracen believes such friendships are important within a professional rugby environment, when the stresses of performance evaluation are cast to the wayside and the players can relax and unwind away from the pitch. Breach discussed how Harrison has persevered greatly to return from ACL and MCL injuries, in what speaks volumes of her teammate’s toughness.

“It was a tough year for her. No doubt about it, she would say it herself, and I think her coming back into the England squad, it had changed completely. So I think actually, she’s applied herself really well. She should really credit herself that she’s come in and focused on being a part of England.

“She had to learn a lot of new systems. I think when she came in, she already knew them, because she’d rung Lou (Meadows) or watched the clips on ‘Huddle’ and I think that just shows the character and the determination she has as a player, and as a person.

“Obviously we’re best friends, so I think it’s phenomenal to see her back in a white shirt. I think she’s doing really well and hopefully she can just keep getting confident with the injuries that she had.”

“Not as much now (TikTok videos), Maybe being a bit older a bit less on the TikTok! but you know, it’s just really nice to have her back. I think as much as it was a long year for her, it was a long year for me, for not having that someone in camp that I think you can really connect with. Everyone has that one person.

“Actually, I said to her, it did allow me to branch my horizons and get used to other people, or be a part of different groups, which I think was really good for me. Especially with Mitch (John Mitchell) coming in, he has definitely made it a one team like environment, which I think is really good.”

Another player who has battled back from recent injuries and makes a return to the Red Roses squad is Amy Cokayne. The hooker was originally named in the wider training squad, but later had to with-drawl for the opening fortnight of fixtures with a problematic calf injury. The Leicester Tigers and Royal Air Force front row takes up the starting two jersey this week, as Lark Atkin-Davies continues to recover from her concussion.

Amy Cokayne of England Women during the TikTok Womens Six Nations match between England Women and Wales Women at Kingsholm Stadium on April 9 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

Interestingly, Jess Breach and Amy Cokayne had a recent discussion on all things try-scoring. Breach is currently the Red Roses top active try scorer with 36 tries, whilst Cokayne has crossed the whitewash a total of 33 occassions. Speaking on what it means to top the scoring charts whilst wearing the rose, Breach gave all credit to her teammates for putting her into the scoring positions.

“Weird again, because Amy Cokayne mentioned that to me yesterday as well. She said something like, I think when ‘Midds’ (Simon Middleton) retired or left us, we both had scored like 33 tries under him or something like that. And then she (Amy Cokayne) said, ‘Oh, but you went to WXV, you must have more. And I said, ‘I think only scored two more.’ So again, I don’t really think about it.

Try celebrations for Jess Breach of England Red Roses during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at StoneX Stadium, London on Saturday 30 September 2023. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

“I think actually I’m pretty sad that the way I started hasn’t obviously continued (six tries a game). But, I think obviously it just shows that the way that women’s rugby has gone, has got way better and way more competitive, which is really good.

“I think it’s not about individuals. I don’t think (about) scoring tries you know, I want to win as a team and put the best people in the best position. So, at the weekend when we played Wales, I was buzzing that I could pass that ball to Abby (Dow) and for her to score. lI think again, that leads back to her playing the fullback role, we’ve all developed better skills to be able to put people into better positions.”

Jess Breach of England Red Roses during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at StoneX Stadium, London on Saturday 30 September 2023. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

As Breach highlighted, the Red Roses take great pride in being versatile amongst the back-three. Despite predominantly both starring on England’s flying wings, Jess Breach and Abby Dow do feel comfortable when called upon to shift across to fullback. There can come a time when Ellie Kildunne departs the pitch for one reason or another, and the two wings back their abilities in the 15 jersey, as suitable stand-ins for the Harlequin.

“I think we speak a lot about it. I think actually, I mean, Abby being able to play fullback at club (Trailfinders Women) has really helped El (Ellie Kildunne). I think we all understand each other’s positioning now, I think that really helps our connections.

“If Ellie is in the line, like one of us can slot in the backfield and not be stressful or like unconnected, which is actually really important. And we’re learning all as a back three. So I think all of us being able to interchange is actually really good.”

Ellie Kildunne of England Red Roses during the international friendly match between England Red Roses and Canada women at StoneX Stadium, London on Saturday 30 September 2023. Photo: James Whitehead/PPAUK

Turning her attention to Saturday’s opponents, and Breach recognises how Scotland pose a valiant threat upon the journey to Edinburgh. This fixture is not expected to have a one-way traffic of tries, as Scotland have gotten a recent taste of that winning feeling, after getting their hands on the WXV2 title last Autumn. This lift in Scottish momentum was transfered into an opening round win over Wales, and a solid performance in the defeat to France.

“It is going to be a really competitive game. And we’ve probably never been in this scenario with them before. So I think actually, everyone’s really excited. It’s going to be a game, and it’s going to be challenging for us.

“I definitely think so. I think you can see with every nation being contracted they’re getting better. Italy put up a great fight against us in the first half, so it just shows that if people pump money into the game, and allow people to be full time, it just shows that it’ll (Six Nations competitiveness) get better.”