Amy Cokayne: Red Roses’ try-scoring machine performs for England at unique pace | Rugby Union News
Amy Cokayne scored two tries for England in their first Women’s Six Nations 2023 win over Scotland last week, and the 26-year-old’s exploits have seen her perform at quite a pace. unique.
On his 71st Test cap, Cokayne touched down for his 32nd and 33rd international tries, trailing on the wing for the first, while landing on the back of a rolling Red Roses maul for his second. .
The stats make for a phenomenal read by a frontline striker, with the Red Roses hooker’s label as a try-scoring machine belying his position on the pitch.
By comparison, the most tries ever scored by a hooker in men’s rugby Test is 15 by Irishman Keith Wood between 1994 and 2003 – himself crowned World Rugby Player of the Year in 2001.
England’s top try scorer for men is winger Rory Underwood (49) (1984-1996). The 26-year-old Cokayne is already not far off the strike distance of that total, and at the rate at which she scores, she should exceed that mark.
She’s a far cry from the Red Roses’ all-time record of 61 tries held by former full-back Sue Day (1997-2007), but the fact that a prostitute is even in the conversation is remarkable.
To further contextualize Cokayne’s exploits in his Test career to date, of the top 50 try scorers in men’s Test rugby history, there are only 31 to have scored more tries than ‘her, who are all fullbacks.
In fact, the only forwards on the list are Japanese defender Takashi Kikutani and Uruguayan number 8 Diego Ormaechea, both of whom are said to have played at Tier 2 throughout their careers.
Venture further down the list in search of a Tier 1 striker, and former All Blacks great Richie McCaw appears, but only on 26 tries – already seven short of Cokayne.
A propensity for cluster trials, Cokayne scored a brace at the weekend, a hat-trick in November’s World Cup final loss to the Black Ferns at Eden Park, a brace against Fiji at the World Cup as well , another double against the United States in September, and a hat-trick in a crushing defeat against New Zealand last November – and that’s only in the last 16 months.
“The Scotland game was so many firsts. The first game since the World Cup. The first Six Nations game. The first time we played with names on our shirts,” Cokayne told the RFU. “The first selection for four new players welcomed into the Red Roses family.
“However, all of that was offset by a big ‘last’: the final game for an England legend, Sarah Hunter, playing her 141st game in her 16-year career, retiring to where it all began in her hometown of Newcastle .
“Her legacy will always be that of a true professional, both on and off the pitch. But, for me, what made her truly great was her ability to enjoy the journey with that ever-present smile on his face.
“I tried to soak up the incredible atmosphere as I stood to attention for the national anthem, but the first half was in a flash. My overwhelming feeling at the half time was how fast the game was – it took me a while to catch my breath.
“The week before camp, I left my boots on the train, so instead of my subtle black boots, I had been training in bright yellow boots all week.
“I knew I couldn’t play there because my dad would disown me – forwards only wear black boots is his rule – so luckily Jess Breach let me borrow a pair of his. It was only fitting that I scored a try on the wing.
“We still scored three maul tries at the wheel to keep the purists happy, but it was really evident the variety we have as a team, giving the full-backs a bit more ball so they can show off. their silky skills.”
Among a host of interesting facets of Cokayne’s journey so far are the facts that she had a trial with the Black Ferns at the age of 16, having emigrated to New Zealand at age nine.
She also attended Feilding High School, which produced All Black rugby professionals Aaron Smith, Codie Taylor and the Whitelock brothers, as well as current Black Ferns flanker Sarah Hirini.
Cokayne’s initials spell out AVFC (Amy Victoria Fiona Cokayne), as her father Ian is a huge Aston Villa supporter.
Most notably, Cokayne is a flight officer in the Royal Air Force, associating a love with his love of sport.
“I come from a large military family. My grandfather served, my father is still serving in the RAF and my brother is serving in the British Army. I get a lot of support from my father, and we joke that I have the highest ranking PA, since I am an air force officer and he is a squadron leader.
“I joined the RAF three and a half years ago and I love it. The values intersect between rugby and military life, discipline, communication, the ability to work with a variety of people and the skills in leadership learned at Cranwell, the skills that everyone needs.
“I’m very lucky to be part of the elite athlete program with a full Air Force release and they’re very supportive of my rugby. I encourage everyone to get involved in the military. Not necessarily with the RAF, although of course the RAF is the best!”
Ahead of England’s Round 2 clash of Six Nations 2023 this weekend against Italy, the goal is clear for Cokayne and co: to continue the journey to another Grand Slam.
“In many ways it was like everyone was going back to school, trying to remember the ‘English’ way.
“It was refreshing to know that we accepted where we were in the new cycle and that mistakes were going to happen. It was in very stark contrast to the relentless, high performance mindset we had at the Rugby World Cup.
“Once Week 1 is over, we focus directly on Italy and playing at Franklin’s Gardens, which is one of my favorites. We spent a day at home before heading straight back to Pennyhill Park to start all over again.”
Aldcroft replaces Hunter as Burns makes England debut against Italy
England head coach Simon Middleton named his 23-man Red Roses squad on Thursday to face Italy at Northampton on Sunday, with Zoe Aldcroft moving to No.8 to replace the retired fighter.
Aldcroft will assume the role of vice-captain while moving from the lock, as Marlie Packer continues to lead the team from openside flanker for the remainder of the tournament, with Sadia Kabeya retaining her spot at blindside flanker thereafter.
With Aldcroft at the back of the pack, Bristol Bears lock Delaney Burns will earn his first international cap in place of hardened Poppy Cleall, with Cath O’Donnell lining up alongside him at Franklin’s Gardens.
An unchanged front line completes the forwards as Mackenzie Carson, Cokayne and Sarah Bern retain their spots.
England: 15 Abby Dow, 14 Jess Breach, 13 Lagi Tuima, 12 Tatyana Heard, 11 Claudia MacDonald, 10 Holly Aitchison, 9 Lucy Packer; 1 Mackenzie Carson, 2 Amy Cokayne, 3 Sarah Bern, 4 Cath O’Donnell, 5 Delaney Burns, 6 Sadia Kabeya, 7 Marlie Packer (c), 8 Zoe Aldcroft.
Replacements: 16 Lark Davies, 17 Liz Crake, 18 Kelsey Clifford, 19 Sarah Beckett, 20 Emily Robinson, 21 Ella Wyrwas, 22 Sarah McKenna, 23 Emma Sing.