Jess Breach’s family have spoken of their pride after the West Sussex star completed her record of scoring a try in every game – and finished as top try scorer – as England won the women’s Six Nations.
The former Chichester RFC junior and Pulborough RFC youth player, now a Harlequins Ladies wing,returned to XVs rugby from sevens this year and scored with her first touch back with the Red Roses against Ireland.
Her impressive try scoring continued as she scored twice in each of the games against France, Wales and Italy – and ended the competition with the highest metres made and the most line breaks.
Breach’s double against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday – when the Grand Slam was clinched – means she scored in every game, ended as Six Nations’ top try scorer and now has 20 tries in her seven caps.
Proud dad John, from Felpham, said: “The tournament has been fantastic. It is hard to believe we started at the beginning of February flying over to Ireland for Jess’s first Six Nations game and her third cap. That was amazing, the Irish crowd were very hospitable.
“The support for Jess and team has been truly fantastic. To be able to meet up with parents of daughters we’ve known for a number of years as our daughters have been on the same pathway as Jess was awesome. The support from them and family and friends means a lot to the ladies.
“As a family we’ve travelled to see all the games. Her brother Ryan was unable to make the game at Exeter but there were a number of friends, and girls from Pulborough, to cheer her and the team on. At the Cardiff match she met one of the boys from her Chichester days and two school friends from Bishop Luffa.
“The great thing about the women’s game is the openness and ability to meet with them after every game – you were able congratulate them and share their joy in the performance. Naturally Jess was always on a high and tired after each game, very excited about the win. On occasions Jess would also want to critique some part of her game.
“The players have time to speak to and have selfies with supporters. At Doncaster and Sandy Park it took Jess more than an hour to leave the field to get changed. The interaction with the crowd is fantastic. I think they are so high on adrenaline that they may use this time to reach normal levels.
“At Doncaster the great atmosphere really spurred the ladies on at a tight ground, while Sandy Park was just on another level, and for us made this season’s Six Nations very special.
“The sheer size of the crowd packed into the ground, the noise and the swell of the cheer as ladies came out. Jess said the noise of the crowd when you had the ball and were attacking was incredible and gave you a real surge and lift.
“After all the games, as a family we were able to join the players either at the ground or team hotel, sharing in their excitement.
“Jess has thoroughly enjoyed her time in the 15s squad, she has learnt and will continue to learn from such an experienced group. She was very nervous about receiving the high cross-field kicks, not something she has done a lot of. Her heart missed a beat for the one she caught before scoring against France.”
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John recalled his daughter’s early days in the sport. “Watching Jess play as an under-eight at Chichester or as an under-18 at Pulborough, you hoped she had what it took to play at international level.
“Jess has been very lucky to have played for England under-18s at sevens events and come through the England under-20 programme. While she has been successful with this we have had our fingers crossed she could break into the main squad and play in a Six Nations or a World Cup. She has worked extremely hard and had some great coaches to help and guide her along the way.
“At the final game at Twickenham, there were so many people there to see Jess play – my sister and brother, my nephew, girls from Pulborough RFC, from Chi Uni and families of girls who Jess has played rugby with.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to them for all their support. It has meant a lot to Jess and us to know they are behind her and share in hers and the team’s success.
“The kind messages on Twitter, texts and Facebook, the bumping into people while out in town or walking along the beach saying they watched the game and saw Jess playing. It is great to share in Jess’s success with these friends and feel the buzz they also get from watching on TV or being at the games.”
Breach will now head back to Harlequins for the end of their league season, with their final game at the Stoop on March 30, followed by semi-finals and hopefully a final on April 27.
John added: “For us all as a family it has been a wonderful experience. Who knows what is round the corner and what is to come?”