Six Nations star Kildunne aiming for Olympics

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Six Nations star Kildunne aiming for Olympics

Ellie Kildunne has her sights set on making up for missing out on the Olympics three years ago as she eyes a spot the Great Britain rugby sevens team for this summer’s event in Paris.

The 24-year-old helped Team GB qualify for the 2020 Games, which were delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but did not play in Tokyo as the offer of a full-time contract from the RFU to play the traditional 15-a-side form of rugby union in 2019 had proven too good to turn down.

Yet after helping England retain the Guinness Six Nations title and claim a third-straight Grand Slam with last Saturday’s 42-21 victory away to France, versatile back Kildunne is determined to secure a spot in the 2024 Olympic squad after being unable to compete last time around.

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“It’s still a big question I’ve got to find the answer to myself,” Kildunne told Sky Sports News. “I was part of the sevens group before the last Olympics and unfortunately, I had to take a different route and head towards the World Cup instead.

“It’s always been that almost been there and didn’t quite take it. I talk about wanting to be the best player in the world, and that comes from taking opportunities and taking leaps which is what I’m doing.

“I’m just looking forward to what’s in store. Being part of a new group and bonding with a new team is just going to get me to places that I don’t know where they are yet.”

Kildunne was one of the stars of the Red Roses team as they again swept all before them to clinch the Women’s Six Nations title for the sixth time in a row, finishing as the tournament’s leading try-scorer after crossing the whitewash nine times.

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The RFU are investing millions of pounds to help the game grow ahead of the Women’s World Cup. Former England international Maggie Alphonsi says the investment is vital to help grow the game for young girls.

The Harlequins player was quick to credit the forwards for doing all of the hard work to create opportunities for her to finish along with enjoying having more of an opportunity to get the ball in hand under head coach John Mitchell.

“I can feel the confidence and excitement for each game, and every time I’ve got an opportunity, I just take it,” Kildunne said.

“It’s just where we’re at, at the moment, and as a team we’re playing a different way. We used to play a lot through the forwards, now it’s about the damage the forwards can do and how they can release the backs.

“I absolutely love getting the ball and love the space that is created, but also some space I can create myself. It’s also pretty cool to be playing in front of the crowds we’ve been playing in front of.”

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Wales women’s rugby team is the first club to launch ground-breaking technology with Vodafone that will track the impact of the menstrual cycle on concussions to help female athletes better manage their symptoms.

During his first Women’s Six Nations campaign as head coach, New Zealander Mitchell has implemented an approach which sees England less reliant on forward power as they had been previously.

Kildunne is in no doubt she has benefitted from that and believes all of her team-mates, whatever position they play, have done as well.

“Our mantra has been what is it to take the handbrake off, what does that look like?” Kildunne said. “For each person, it is different, and he just gives you so much confidence to try things.

“We don’t want to be caged, we want to see where we can go and where our abilities can take us.

“That’s what he’s done; he shows a lot of heart, he makes us train hard, he pushes us, and that’s got the best out of us when we’re on the pitch.”

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