Former Pulborough colt Jess Breach is chasing a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ of appearing at the Commonwealth Games after switching to the England Women Sevens programme.
The 20-year-old, who had made a stunning start to her England rugby union career by scoring 11 tries in her first two tests in November, has opted to join the England Women Sevens set-up.
The Harlequins winger, who also used to play at Chichester, is aiming to compete for Commonwealth gold honours in Australia in April and tilt for a World Cup medal in San Francisco in July after being offered the opportunity in the shorter format.
Felpham-based Breach scored six tries on her England debut against Canada and has 11 tries in her two games at international level, while she is also the leading try scorer in the Tyrrells Premier 15s, having crossed 16 times so far.
She had been set for a Six Nations place later this year, but has opted to switch to Sevens instead.
The West Sussex player said: “I was really excited to do the Six Nations after the autumn internationals but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to potentially go to the Commonwealth Games and then the World Cup.
“So I think just the opportunity to have a go and challenge myself made me choose this option.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of people - my family, Harlequins, both Simons (Middleton and Amor) - and no one pushed me either way, they were just discussions about pros and cons and either or.”
Breach has sevens experience having won the European Championship twice with the under-18 side and made her debut for England Women Seven in the final World Series event of last season in Clermont, where she helped the team qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
She added: “I’m doing it because I love the game of rugby. Sevens is really exciting and it has lots more space and a lot more time and allows me to use me assets a bit more,” Breach added.
“I’m obviously still developing as I’m only 20 years old and coming into the game I’ve got a lot of things to learn, but it’s been a good start and I can hopefully keep going up from it, get better, learn new things and develop as a player.
“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to go to lots of different countries and venues but I’m not doing it for that reason, I’m doing it because I love the game of rugby and the feel of it.”
Head of England Sevens Amor is looking forward to her full time switch and said: “Jess has really excelled for both Harlequins Ladies and the senior England Women team in the Old Mutual Wealth Series, which has been fantastic to see and demonstrates great collaboration on developing a young talented player.
“As we are managing some injuries in the women’s sevens squad, we felt it best to open up this opportunity to Jess as we continue to build the squad for Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“The challenge now is to get Jess sevens fit, to give her the best chance of being selected for the Commonwealth Games.”