As they chase glory with the Red Roses in New Zealand, three legends of England Rugby, including captain Sarah Hunter who is set to break the record for most test caps this weekend, have been immortalised in inspiring murals at sites across the country.
Sarah Hunter, Red Roses captain, alongside centre and record point scorer Emily Scarratt, and prop Shaunagh Brown, whose off-field work has been an inspiration for many, have had their portraits created in Newcastle, Leicester and South London – all key locations that played a big part in their early rugby careers.
The Red Roses have recorded 28 consecutive victories, the most of any male or female rugby team in history and are currently competing against the world’s top sides in New Zealand.
The murals were supported by O2, principal partner for England Rugby. They were created by England Rugby licensee and renowned street artist collective, MurWalls, whose artists also created the player street art in Twickenham Stadium ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship.
The trio are not the only ones in the spotlight; to further celebrate the individual roots of each squad member currently in New Zealand, England Rugby has launched an out-of-home campaign honouring each player across 127 sites throughout the country including their hometowns. The campaign will run until the end of November.
Rose Roses Captain, Sarah Hunter, said: “You can’t be what you can’t see, so I hope every young girl who drives past these murals on their way to school, or when they walk to rugby training is inspired, knowing that they too can one day play on the world stage.
“Novocastrians RFC will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I first realised I might be better suited to the forwards, and so moved from inside centre to the backrow!
“While it’s my face up there on the side of the clubhouse, it’s also a celebration of the legacy of every woman who’s pulled on an England jersey.”
Red Roses Vice-Captain, Emily Scarratt, said: “Growing up, it was my dad and brother who I looked up to, but I’m so happy that any girl who plays for Leicester Forest RFC and across the broader area now has a woman to look up to.”
Red Roses Prop, Shaunagh Brown, said: “While we don’t always ask to be role models, as professional athletes playing on the other side of the world we are, so I’m incredibly proud that aspiring young girls and boys, especially those of colour, can look to me in a very real way for inspiration.”
Ewan Turney, England Rugby Marketing Director, said: “We’re delighted to have created permanent artworks to hero three of our senior Red Roses in locations that played a significant part in their rugby journey. We’re confident they will inspire the next generation of players to pick up a ball and try the sport.”
Marie Houlgate, Head of Sport Partnerships and Sponsorship at Virgin Media O2, said: “The Red Roses are inspiring a nation of fans and proving why they are currently the number one team in the world with their performances in New Zealand. Through O2’s partnership with the Red Roses, we’ve championed the team as one that everyone should know about and these murals at locations across the UK will help increase awareness of these incredibly talented and inspirational players.”