When England’s Rugby team take to the turf against New Zealand tomorrow for the World Cup final, the stars of the squad will be casting an eye to their supportive partners in the stands.
Simon Middleton’s side won 25 consecutive games going into the tournament which is a record no team – male or female – has been able to achieve in rugby history.
And they have since gone on to prove themselves to be a formidable force, with just 80 minutes standing between them and lifting the World Cup title.
The team will be cheered on by their glamorous WAGs and handsome HABs – many of whom are passionate rugby players themselves.
Here FEMAIL reveals all about the supportive partners behind the incredible squad – from a fellow England star to a childhood sweetheart who met for the first time aged 10.
GIRLFRIEND: Hannah Botterman
Holly Aitchison, 25, and Hannah Botterman, 24, who are both in the England women’s rugby team, have spoken about their romance for the first time
And Holly is set to start Saturday’s World Cup final with New Zealand , with Hannah cheering on her girlfriend from the sidelines due to a serious knee injury
Holly and Hannah first met at Hartpury College in 2015 but split after a year and were left ‘heartbroken’ as Holly struggled to come to terms with her sexuality.
They have now revealed how they were brought back together by ‘fate’ when they were both signed to the Saracens and Simon Middleton’s Red Roses squad.
And Holly is set to start Saturday’s World Cup final with New Zealand, with Hannah cheering on her girlfriend from the sidelines due to a serious knee injury.
Holly previously confessed it was ‘tough’ to see Hannah on the sidelines, but said her girlfriend’s attitude had been incredible.
She told FEMAIL: ‘How Hannah has picked herself back up from the injury and given everything to lift the team says a lot about her.
‘She’s still got someone who is in her corner. She’s definitely someone the squad looks to for energy.’
Ellie Kildunne and her boyfriend Cameron often share photos from their holidays abroad with one another, including snaps snuggling up for romantic trips and jetting off for vacations with their families
Growing up in Yorkshire, a young Liverpool-mad Ellie uses her Instagram and TikTok pages to connect with and inspire the next generation while she bids to help England to World Cup glory in New Zealand
Growing up in Yorkshire, a young Liverpool-mad Ellie Kildunne uses her Instagram and TikTok pages to connect with and inspire the next generation while she bids to help England to World Cup glory in New Zealand.
But she also regularly posts snaps of her boyfriend Cameron, who she has been with for over two years.
The couple often share photos from their holidays abroad with one another, including snaps snuggling up for romantic trips and jetting off for vacations with their families.
Last year, Ellie posted a romantic three minute long video to her beau as she wished him a happy birthday.
She wrote: ‘twentyone. Happy birthday to my best friend. Happiness is by your side, I love you x @_cameron_s.b.’
Despite that, Cameron tends to keep a low-profile – his Instagram page is on private.
Leanne got engaged to husband Matt in early December 2020, with the couple tying the knot in a lavish ceremony surrounded by friends and family last year
Leanne passes during an England Rugby World Cup squad training session at Bruce Pulman Park
Leanne got engaged to husband Matt in early December 2020, with the couple tying the knot in a lavish ceremony surrounded by friends and family last year.
And while Matt tends to keep a low-profile, Leanne occasionally shares snapshots of their life together with their French bulldog puppy.
In 2018, she posted a snap of a very muddy Matt on the rugby pitch, writing: ‘Normally it’s the other way round on these photos, but a great day watching him play yesterday.
‘Top work with the port and cheese during the breaks!!’
Meanwhile she posted a gushing post to mark their one year wedding anniversary in October, sharing: ‘1 year ago today. Ok ok so our current time difference says otherwise.
‘The best day of my life to date, full of so much love and joy, shared with the most important people in our lives. I wish we could re-live it all again!
‘Happy Anniversary Mr Infante.’
HUSBAND: Will Brock
England prop Vickii Cornborough met her husband Will, who plays for Havant as a flanker, when they joined the same rugby team as children
England prop Vickii is among the players taking part in the World Cup final tomorrow with her teammates
England prop Vickii Cornborough is among the players taking part in the World Cup final tomorrow with her teammates.
However she’s busy with her personal life off the pitch as well – and a mother to her young daughter with husband Will Brock.
Will, who plays for Havant as a flanker, met Vickii when they joined the same rugby team when they were around 10-years-old.
It took them another decade to be introduced again as adults and fell in love after encountering each other in a bar.
He proposed in August 2019 and the wedding included guests from 10 different rugby teams.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2020, she said: ”I had to ring up the England coaches to go: ‘Excuse me, I’d like to get married this summer can we have a look at the calendar, what day can I get married please?’
‘And then I called Will and went: ‘Right, I’ve got a date.’
BOYFRIEND: Nathan Smith
Sarah Hunter has been dating her boyfriend Nathan Smith for a number of years, and the two live together near Loughborough
Sarah became the most capped player in England rugby history when she captained her country in the World Cup quarter-final with Australia this tournament
Sarah Hunter became the most capped player in England rugby history when she captained her country in the World Cup quarter-final with Australia this tournament.
And her boyfriend Nathan Smith is sure to have been cheering her on throughout the event.
The 37-year-old has been dating Nathan for a number of years, and the two live together near Loughborough.
He is a coach at Doncaster Knights rugby club.
Earlier this year, she was among sporting stars to be invited to watch the Wimbledon semi-final.
FIANCE: Luke Stratford
Zoe Aldcroft is happily engaged to her boyfriend of nearly five years Luke Stratford, who is also a rugby player and coaches their local team in his spare time
Zoe was crowned 2021 women’s player of the year, and Luke admitted he was ‘all over the place’ about the news (pictured on the pitched at the Rugby World Cup 2021 Semifinals
Zoe Aldcroft, 2021’s player of the year, is happily engaged to her long-time boyfriend Luke Stratford.
The pair got engaged on December 29 last year, and according to Zoe’s Instagram account, have been an item since January 2018.
Luke is another rugby enthusiast who has been playing at Hartpury College in Gloucester for at least five years and Zoe, 25, often goes to encourage him when his team takes to the pitch.
Luke also coaches the Hartpury 2nds in the university league and works at a school full-time. In his free time, he coaches the local team, Longlevens RFC.
The pair are an outdoorsy bunch and will often be seen rowing and hiking together, when they are not sharing family functions and friends wedding.
It is not known when the pair are planning on marrying, but Luke is ever the supporting boyfriend and loves to cheer Zoe on.
Speaking to the Talking Rugby Union in January, he said: ‘She (Zoe) got nominated for Player of the Year over email and a week later she got it.’
He added: ‘I don’t know what she was thinking, but I was a bit all over the place.’
‘She does like to push me and she’ll be brutally honest with me at feedback. If she sees me play, she’ll tell me something is s*** or mention a missed tackle
‘It is what I need and it is the way she is. Her style.’
HUSBAND: Dave Ward
Abbie and Dave Ward tied the knot in 2020 after years of dating. Dave said he is keeping the house tidy while Abbie focuses on training
Abbie, pictured during the World Cup semi final last week, met Dave at the Harlequins several years ago
Abbie Ward, who plays for the Bristol Bear, is one half of a rugby power couple, being happily married to Dave Ward, 37, who is also a rugby player and was a hooker for her former club, the Harlequins.
The club was the first in the Premier 15s to integrate their men’s and women’s training bases together, which led to a chance encounter by the couple, they told The Telegraph in 2021.
Abbie was looking for members of the men’s team to cheer on the female team when she happened upon Dave.
‘Dave just happened to be there with a big smile on his face, he seemed like an approachable person and that is how we met,’ she said.
‘She asked me where was good to go for breakfast in Guildford and I saw my cue, so I picked somewhere nice,’ he added.
Since, the couple have fully become part of each other’s careers, with the pair have regular throwing practice in their garden.
Meanwhile, Abbie said in the same interview that she likes being with someone who can relate to her training and shares her love of rugby.
She added that Dave acted as her at-home physiotherapist when she suffered from a hip injury in 2020 and became her training partner, which she said helped her mentally.
In the run up to the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Dave said he has been taking on more responsibilities at home.
He added that he liked to be able to take the pressure off of Abbie so she can focus on her sport.
‘I like to make sure that after every England camp she comes back to a nice clean and tidy home, so I know she can relax because Abbie can’t relax unless everything is in its place,’ he said.
FIANCEE: Charlotte Keane
Little is known about Alex Matthew’s fiancée Charlotte Keane, left, apart from the fact the pair have been together for the past ten years and got engaged in July by Keeper’s pond, situated near Pwll Du, on the hill above Blaenavon in Wales
The pair have been dating for a decade and looking forward to getting married at a later date. Pictured: Matthews during last week’s semifinal
Little is known about Alex Matthew’s fiancee Charlotte Keane, apart from the fact the pair have been together for the past ten years.
They got engaged in July by Keeper’s pond, situated near Pwll Du, on the hill above Blaenavon in Wales.
Charlotte is a constant presence in Alex’s life and can often be seen cheering for her on her Instagram.
The pair are keen hikers, and have both said that they ‘challenge each other.’
Charlotte’s day job is not known, however, from her Instagram presence, it looks like she is working behind-the-scenes in the sporting field, and has worked with the Official Sports Services in the past.
The organisation works with physiotherapists, osteopaths and other sports therapists to support professional sports teams and events around the world.
When she’s not playing rugby, openside flanker Marlie Packer is a loved-up mother-of-one who welcomed her son Oliver in 2020
Marlie was crown Player of the Match after England’s quarterfinal against Germany on October 30
Away from the pitch, flanker Marlie Packer is happily settled with her partner Natasha, who gave birth to their son Oliver in 2020.
Speaking to The I in March, Marlie said she managed to balance her ‘home, family and rugby balance.’
When she’s not training with the Roses, Marlie is a doting mother who takes her son to her games and spends time with her family on the beach.
The mother-of-one, who began her career in the West Country, is currently playing for the Saracens in North London.
Meanwhile Natasha works as a community supporter office, with Marlie previously revealing how difficult it was during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking in an interview with the Rugby Players Association, she said: ‘We went through all the motions together; I wasn’t out at work because I was furloughed by the RFU.
‘She really helped me with my rehab with my ankle. She is definitely no physio therapist, but she can mobilise an ankle.’
She revealed Natasha, whom she calls ‘Tash’, had to listen to the instructions of a physiotherapist via FaceTime in order to help with Marlie’s ankle.
Natasha got pregnant during the pandemic as well, which was ‘daunting’ for the couple.
Marlie revealed the pregnancy was her main focus outside of rugby in 2020, and something the couple had planned together.