Playing Wales at Cross Keys RFC for our first international since the World Cup was a tough start to our campaign. Wales fronted up with great physicality and the conditions certainly prevented either side from playing expansive rugby.
During the game, my scrum cap fell off in the first few minutes, and I didn't managed to put it back on until half time.
This resulted in horrific muddy dreadlocks; which posed a massive challenge to wash out afterwards. I certainly didn't envy our kit washer after this game - perhaps the dark grey away strip would have been a better idea….
Although we were pleased to start the campaign with a 19-0 win against Wales, our team performance left plenty of room for improvement.
Having been released from England camp at Midday on Monday, I headed straight over the Severn Bridge back to afternoon surgery at the Veterinary Practice where I work.
With a quick turnaround before our second game against Italy, the six days between matches were focused on recovery, and, as a result, my training load for the week was fairly light.
The preparation for the Italy game was in much more familiar surroundings - we met at our team hotel (where the staff don't seem to have changed in years!) for an analysis session before heading to our team run at Esher RFC.
We knew that the Italians had a strong kicking game and would fight for every scrap of possession. The pitch at Esher, despite the rain and earlier England A v Nomads game, was in great condition; this and our improved breakdown work enabled us to play a much quicker game than the previous week, scoring 11 tries including braces from Heather Fisher, Danielle Waterman and Kat Merchant.
It was a lucky day for Emily Scarratt, who was delighted with her first half effort. However, I am a little concerned that she appeared to be more delighted when she found £40 on the pitch than when she scored her first half try! Well, students will be students!!
Having beaten the Italians 68-5, we were pleased with our performance against a very spirited side, but were disappointed to have conceded a try through a lapse of defensive organisation.
We know that we will face stiff opposition against the in-form France at Worcester on Sunday 27th February.
We have got some time to prepare for the challenge so hopefully it will be a great game in front of a big crowd of supporters.