Experienced Spain prop Laura Delgado admits that being away from family during the pandemic has been tough, but now she is back in her homeland and keen to put a smile of supporters’ faces in the Rugby Europe Championship match with Russia on Saturday.
Laura and Co will be favourites to beat the Russians at the Estadio Pedro Escartín in Guadalajara in the delayed match from 2020 and then go on to beat The Netherlands next weekend to secure a place in the European World Cup qualifying tournament.
However, having not played a match together in so long, the Spanish team know they will have to hit the ground running against a Russian outfit who have already seen off the Netherlands last March and who will be throwing everything at this one.
“It is certainly our goal to qualify for the World Cup in New Zealand and it has been since we started working together after the previous World Cup in Ireland,” Laura, 30, said.
“We will play each game as if it were a final, starting against Russia.
“It is so great being able to meet up with the squad again, being with ‘Las Leonas’ is always special and it is even more so now given the situation that we are going through in the world at the moment.
Image: Delgado in action for her club, Exeter Chiefs
“The current squad is a young group which has been building since the last World Cup, we have been working hard together when we have had the chance and there is a very energetic and positive atmosphere around, we are growing together.
“I really think that for me, being away from my family in recent months has been the most difficult thing. I have been used to playing away from home, but although I am used to that, normally I always try to visit my family every couple of months.
“However, recently I have been in England and now we are in a squad bubble with Spain so I can’t see them, but I keep in touch with my family as much as I can and I want to play well for them and the supporters this weekend.”
Laura is originally from Jerez de la Frontera in the Cádiz region in the south of Spain and, as she mentioned, she has added to her rugby experiences of late by playing abroad.
For the 2020/21 season that has taken her to newly-former Premier 15s side Exeter Chiefs in England and they have been going well, including wins over big names like Saracens and Harlequins in recent weeks.
“Exeter Chiefs is the most professional club that I have experienced in my career so far,” she said.
“We put in so many hours of training with so many international players from many parts of the world and it is incredible, I feel that I am growing a lot as a player and as a person, I feel very lucky.
“Those wins against Saracens and Harlequins recently are recognition of the great work that is being done at the club.
“Victories against these types of teams motivates us to keep working and I know that we can keep growing.”
For now though all of Laura’s thoughts are on performing well for Spain.
By Gary Heatly
Spain squad: Eva Aguirre, Lourdes Alameda, Amalia Argudo, Uri Barrutieta, Cristina Blanco, Maika Brust, Inés Bueso-Inchausti, Mana Calvo, Carmen Castellucci, Monica Castelo, Laura Delgado, Lucía Diaz, Beth Dominguez, Iera Echebarria, Armina Erbina, Lile Erbina, Marta Estelles, Anna Fernandez de Corres, Olivia Fresneda, María Garcia, Patrica Garcia, Sama Jaurena, Maria Losada, Paula Medin, Irene Noguera, Anna Puig, Paula Requena, Carmen Rodera, Margarita Rodriguez, Seth Segarra; Alba Vinuesa.