WORLD Cup winner Kat Merchant says missing out to New Zealand four years ago makes her England triumph extra special.
The 28-year-old Worcester wing, who grew up in the Evesham area, was part of the team that defeated Canada 21-9 to lift the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris.
It was England’s first success in the tournament for 20 years and saw them go one better than the 2010 last-gasp 13-10 defeat to the Black Ferns on home soil.
Merchant, one of five Worcester players involved in the squad, said: “I still remember that feeling and there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by in the four years since when I didn’t reflect on it. It feels amazing to put that right.
“There are a few girls in the squad who have won it at the first attempt but a few of us have been to two or three world cups.
“It’s hard to say it would mean more but for me it does because I have been there before.
“Every training session and all those moments make you realise it was all worth it.
“I cried more winning it than I did losing it because I didn’t know what to do with myself as it’s what I have aimed for.”
Merchant, who has played for Premiership side Worcester since the age of 14, was joined in the squad by club-mates Rochelle Clark, Ceri Large, Laura Keates and Heather Fisher.
She continued: “When I first started playing, I wanted to play for England.
“When I did that, the sole goal was to win the biggest thing possible and that’s the World Cup.
“I still don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. There are times when I’m quiet and I realise I am a world champion but the impact that it’s had won’t hit for a long time.
“The support was fantastic but it wasn’t until we got back in England and we were on the front pages of newspapers when we realised how much support there was, so that was amazing to arrive back to.”
Merchant attended Sedgeberrow First School, Bredon Hill Middle School and Prince Henry’s High School as a youngster.
She then gained a degree in sport and exercise science at the University of Birmingham.
Merchant intends to finish her playing career with Worcester.