After announcing her international retirement with immediate effect, Danielle Waterman leaves a hole in the England squad, which could take longer than most envisage to patch up. With 47 tries in 82 appearances for the Red Roses, Wasps wonder-woman Waterman was a vital cog in England’s World Cup triumph of 2014. With just one Six Nations defeat in her entire career, England now need another figure to look up to with preparations for the 2021 World Cup already underway.
Waterman speaks on British sport as an ‘industry’
For the Red Roses, wresting the world title away from New Zealand in three years’ time will be a tall order, without the counter-attacking capabilities of Waterman to lead them. Like their male counterparts, who are amongst the frontrunners for glory in rugby union betting for next year’s World Cup, expectations surrounding England are high. However, with Australia making a serious bid to host the 2021 event, England’s task could be made even more difficult in due course.
The Australian team, as well as New Zealand, is a massive threat to England’s quest for another world title. Earlier this year, the inauguration of a ‘Super W’ competition in Australia, which featured teams representing Australia’s major territories, appeared to take the women’s game in Australia to new heights. More editions can only further the development it provokes in young talents.
In the event of Australia getting the nod to host the 2021 World Cup, England will be yet further reliant on counter-attacking play – which Waterman so effortlessly enacted on many occasions – to lift the trophy once again. The England roster is, of course, already rich in players with a healthy balance of power in the tackle and pace on the break, but a vocal influence is also needed. Waterman was all those elements merged into one body.
Even from a relatively young age, there was something special about Waterman. At just eighteen years old, she became England’s youngest player at the time of her debut back in 2003, displaying a disquieting ability to successfully utilise her pace when playing directly for the try line.
Waterman reflects on her club career with Wasps.
After a glistening career thereafter, she reached her indomitable peak at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. On hostile turf, she commanding the field and showing exactly why many Rugby aficionados consider her to be England’s greatest female player yet.
Though her athleticism and pace was a huge asset, Waterman was also well known for her tackling ability. Even the most difficult situations were fair game for her, and she thought nothing of diving in to take down opponents considered stronger even than her. Coming from a rugby family, with a father who made over 450 appearances for Bath, it stands to reason that Waterman should thrive under pressure.
Above all else, her achievements have served to thrust women’s rugby into the limelight. Development schemes in Britain are now given unprecedented levels of funding, but where Waterman is concerned, the personal plaudits do not end with her international retirement. As of early May 2018, she is also one of three nominees for the 2017-18 Women’s Player of the Year Award.