‘Here to push boundaries’ - England international on upcoming WVX Rugby tournament and her Canterbury collection

Ellie Kildunne speaks exclusively to National World writer ahead of her upcoming campaign with Canterbury and England’s WXV tournament
Ellie Kildunne in action for England during the 2021 World CupEllie Kildunne in action for England during the 2021 World Cup
Ellie Kildunne in action for England during the 2021 World Cup

Ellie Kildunne - Harlequins and Englandrugby international, and now the face of Canterbury’s latest collection.

24-year-old fullback Kildunne was a vital figure in England’s 2023 Six Nations success and their journey to the 2022 World Cup final. She will undoubtedly also be the face of the 2025 World Cup, set to be hosted in England.

However the world of women’s rugby is still exceptionally far behind where it could (and arguably should be in 2023) but England’s star full-back knows it’s just a matter of time before the crowds are on a more even pathway.

NationalWorld was able to chat exclusively to Ellie Kildunne ahead of her Canterbury collection being released today, 10 October, to chat all things Rugby World Cup, that record-breaking Twickenham crowd, and how the new-look England will fare in the new WXV Rugby competition later this month.

But of course, we had to start with the ongoing men’s World Cup. At the time of speaking, England’s men had suffered badly in their pre-World Cup warm-up fixtures but hopes were still strong for a positive performance in France.

“We’ve always got to back our boys and the work that they’ve put in.

“World Cup prep is something that can go against the odds and they can outperform when the time is right” - a statement which has so far been proved right as Steve Borthwick’s men have now reached the quarter-finals.

Kildunne was also asked who she is most excited to watch play to which she unsurprisingly answered by naming a back.

“Henry Arundell - even though he has only had a couple of caps, he has shown a different breed of wingers. He is incredibly strong and fast. He can play as full-back or on the wing. He can kick and he can see the space.

“He is fresh-meat almost, the opposition won’t know what’s coming so it’s really exciting to see him getting a few touches on the ball and showing us what he can do.” Incidentally, Arundell went on to score five tries against Chile.

It’s only a couple of years until England host the 2025 World Cup and will hope to improve on their second-place performance in New Zealand last year. Over 42,000 spectators watched New Zealand beat the Red roses by three points. At the time, this figure was a world record for a women’s rugby match.

It has since been absolutely smashed with well over 60,000 fans piling into Twickenham as England hosted France on the final day of the Six Nations 2023 competition.

Kildunne has called this achievement one of the proudest in her career as it signified a desire to watch women’s rugby and showed a huge indication of what can be achieved come the next World Cup.

“I didn’t expect there to be that many people. When we stepped out to do the warm-up, it was really hard to concentrate because you just want to look round and I was giddy.

“That is something I’m so proud of. Not just of myself, but I’m proud to be a female athlete in that space. It has inspired me to keep on going.

“In the times when you are training on your own, running on your own, there are over 60,000 people out there supporting me, behind me and when the time comes they will be there and they will be cheering for us.

“It was just so breathtaking to be part of something like that. When we scored, seriously the noise! You don’t tune in to it until you’re not playing. But as soon as England scored the try, you had a second to realise what’s going on and there were so many people!”

However, it will soon be time for the attention to turn to the WXV - a new, three-tiered tournament comprising 18 teams.

England will have a different coach leading the way than who was seen in the Six Nations with Louis Deacon acting as interim head coach following Simon Middleton’s post-six nations departure.

Kildunne, though, is fully aware of the power behind this new set-up and is already feeling sorry for those set to face the Red Roses: “I think you’ll see an exciting team come out and a team that is ready to try new things. And create a genre of rugby that is so exciting to watch.

“We’ve got power, we’ve got speed, we’ve got skill and ability and I feel sorry for anyone that’s going to have to play against us. We’re hard-working, we’re fit and we’ve got confidence to push the boundaries so I’m really looking forward to what we can produce.”

The 24-year-old full-back has also been turning her attention away from the pitch, focusing on her upcoming campaign with Canterbury, with her collection ready for sale from today.

Speaking about her collaboration, the England star said: “I’ve been with them for a few years. Canterbury has allowed me to bring out my creative side with the collaboration that’s nearly out now. I love fashion and clothing, and the way it can bring out people’s personality.

“And they’ve just given me this branch to do what I want to do with it. To create my own thing and to work with a brand that trusts me. They trust me, they trust what I’m saying, what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking and I’m really really excited to bring it out.

“I’m the first women’s rugby player to do something like this. I’m not going to be the last. We’re here to push the boundaries.

“We’re not just athletes, we’re not just rugby players, we’re so much more . We’re talented humans who have got so much to give and it’s really exciting to work with a brand that allows me to be like that.”

Ellie Kildunne is a Canterbury ambassador. Kildunne was speaking at the launch of Canterbury New Zealand’s latest women’s apparel collection, the first female rugby player to have an apparel range in conjunction with a rugby brand.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.