“I am truly excited,” says Cris Blanco ahead of Spain’s Championship campaign
Netherlands and Sweden got the Rugby Europe women’s Championship for 2023 off to a cracking start last weekend - and in the coming days favourites Spain will enter the competition.
Given they are 11th in the world and Netherlands are 16th and Sweden 20th and they are also reigning champions, it is understandable why many see the Spanish as the team to beat here.
However, after Netherlands secured a bonus point win in week one, Spain know they will face a tough match against a buoyant opponent in Barcelona on Sunday.
“When playing against Netherlands you always expect a physical game and well executed set piece so our defence needs to be impeccable at the weekend,” Spain’s Cris Blanco said.
“It is always preferable to play at home so we can feel the support from our home crowd along with support from our friends and families.
“I am truly excited about this competition. I'm looking forward to continuing to grow with the new coaches and the new set up. We are ready to go back on the field together for a big match.
“As a squad we are continuously developing ourselves as athletes, starting with individual work in the gym and working on our skills and then, team-wise, working hard with our clubs so whenever we can come together as a group we are able to give the best of ourselves.”
Spain missed out on the Rugby World Cup 2021 - played in 2022 - in New Zealand after Scotland finished top of a European qualifying event featuring those two sides plus Italy and Ireland.
It means that Spain are determined to make it to the next showpiece event in England in 2025 and that journey really starts now.
“We have had our plans in place since the last summer in order to achieve our goals,” Blanco said.
“A stepping stone for us as a squad would be to qualify for the WXV [a new World Rugby competition beginning later in 2023] in the best position possible and long-term, of course, to be in the World Cup in 2025.”
Hooker Blanco is playing with Wasps in the English Allianz Premier XVs competition this term.
“Playing at Wasps this season has been challenging, but a great step in terms of my exposure to that level of competition each week,” she explained.
“I love the challenge and am learning and developing a lot both on and off the field.”
Spain takes on the Netherlands in Sitges, Barcelona this Sunday 2pm CET, live on rugbyeurope.tv, Teledeporte (Spain) and FloRugby (North America).