Rugby World Cup sacrifices set Canada up for England semi-final

EMily Tuttosi grew up on the Canadian prairies, but even that vast expanse isn’t nearly as big as the funding gap between her largely amateur teammates and England’s full-time professionals. When the two sides face off in a Rugby World Cup semi-final this Saturday, the Red Roses will instantly be reminded of what true sacrifice and extraordinary dedication looks like.

Tuttosi, 27, is one of the lucky few playing rugby for their club in England – in her case for Exeter Chiefs – but many of her fellow squad members have been forced to make ‘really tough choices’ such as refusing job offers. , turning down promotions or postponing their graduation exams just to get to this tournament.

Some went even further and abandoned their homes. “People have given up on having a permanent home and just moved to where the team has been for the last six months,” says Tuttosi. “The support we’ve had has been huge, but there have been girls who have had to put off their careers and relearn how to live like broke students. That’s part of what makes our group special. we do was aiming to play the match this weekend.

Covid having severely hampered Canada’s recent playing opportunities, the Exeter prostitute and her colleagues have shuttled between England, New Zealand, Vancouver Island, Nova Scotia, Fiji and now the New Zealand to train, play and compete again. “We knew we had to make it up somehow,” says Tuttosi. “Personally, I live out of a suitcase I packed in Exeter last May. Some call it sacrifices, others call it hard choices.

Beating England would make everything interesting and Tuttosi has already reaped dividends with six tries, second in the tournament only to New Zealand’s Portia Woodman. The next challenge is to hold your own against the England forwards, some of whom have played alongside Tuttosi before. “It’s no secret that England have always been pretty strong. They’re such a strong team technically. But I think we’re ready for battle. I’ve played with a good handful of them. them, especially during my stay in Loughborough, but it’s all work on Saturdays.

Emily Tuttosi in action for Exeter against Saracens' Poppy Cleall
Emily Tuttosi (left) in action for Exeter against Saracens’ Poppy Cleall. Photography: Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection/Getty Images

As a proud Manitoba girl – “I’m a classic Canadian. I literally tapped trees to boil sap to make maple syrup” – she also wants to show that England does not have a monopoly on hard-line intent. “We are very proud to bring a physical Canadian brand to rugby. We know the free kick is a good base for us and I think we have to take things like that personally. Taking individual responsibility will help us collectively be better on that day.

“This week, I think the pressure is more on them. Everywhere we went it was always ‘England are number one’. We’re just gonna focus on ourselves and get ready to go. We’re proud to be the only ‘amateur’ team in the last four, but that’s not something we can settle for. As a team, we strive to do our best no matter what. As a player, what I would love to see this weekend are two super competitive semi-finals that show what women’s rugby is all about. I think this tournament has done a great job of showing that women’s rugby is growing and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And by the time the next World Cup kicks off, in England in 2025, she also hopes the financial chasm between a few wealthier teams and the others will have been at least partly bridged. “I’m not sure where the funding comes from, but it’s been proven that if you make the programs professional, the results will be clear. It’s just a matter of when more nations can take that step.

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