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Arena Sport Acquires World Rights to The Red Roses by Jessica Hayden

  22 Mar '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Birlinn are excited to announce the acquisition for our Arena Sport imprint of World rights, including audio, to The Red Roses by Jessica Hayden, from Melanie Michael-Greer at The Michael Greer Literary Agency.

In January 2019, England’s Red Roses became the first fully-professional women’s rugby team in the world with one mission: win back the Rugby World Cup. In 2017, they lost the final 41-32 against New Zealand. With the 2021 tournament delayed by one year due to Covid, the team had five years to complete their mission and over three years as a fully professional side. As a professional unit, the Red Roses developed a game plan so forensic and impenetrable, they secured the longest winning streak in rugby union history.

The Red Roses headed into the 2021 Rugby World Cup as clear favourites. After a clean sweep in the pool stages, and big wins in the knock-out games, England faced New Zealand, the hosts, in the final. One year before, England had defeated them with record-breaking score lines on consecutive weekends and all eyes were on Sarah Hunter, England captain, with the expectation she would lift the trophy.

Yet in the final play of the game, New Zealand stole the victory so many saw as promised to England.
The Red Roses will host the Rugby World Cup in 2025, and the stakes have never been higher. Can they finally win back the trophy?

Jessica Hayden is the digital sports sub-editor and rugby journalist at The Times and The Sunday Times and also works as a freelance rugby presenter. Jessica is a prominent name in rugby journalism, known for breaking agenda-setting exclusives and hosting the women’s rugby section on The Times’ rugby podcast, The Ruck. As a trusted voice on rugby union, Jessica has sat on the Six Nations panel that decides the player of the championship shortlist for both the men’s and women’s tournaments since 2020.

Alongside writing for The Times, Jessica presents Allianz Premier 15s matches for England Rugby and hosts women’s rugby events. Before the 2021 Rugby World Cup, Jess worked with ITV as their rugby consultant for ‘Wear The Rose’, their documentary about the England women’s rugby team.

Jessica says ‘I am delighted to be writing such an important book about the England women’s rugby team. The Red Roses gives readers exclusive insight into the elite set-up at England, with unparalleled access to the players, coaches, and support staff. I hope that this book can be enjoyed by everyone who appreciates high-performance sport, regardless of their prior interest in women’s rugby. We are at a pivotal moment for women’s sport in England, with records being broken all the time. The 2025 Rugby World Cup, hosted by England, is the perfect chance for the Red Roses to emulate the success of the Lionesses and once more inspire the nation.’

Melanie at the Michael-Greer Agency says: ‘We are so excited for our author, and most especially for the readers out there; this is the definitive Red Roses book that will take us right into the camp, with all the grit, determination and sheer thrill that Women’s Rugby engenders.’

Jessica’s book has the full support of England Rugby who are hugely excited about the project. Sue Day, chief operations officer and chief financial officer at the RFU said: ‘This book will provide a record of the Red Roses and their achievements. Jess will document the team’s record through her passionate writing which will be an important tool building up to the 2025 World Cup. This is huge for the women’s game which, like many women’s sports, lacks records. This will be an important resource for those reading and learning about the game in the future.’

Jamie Harris from Arena Sport says: ‘We’re really excited to be bringing Jessica Hayden on board and expanding our women’s sport list. With the last World Cup putting Women’s Rugby firmly on the map, it’s long past time the players were given the spotlight in their own words. Jessica has been right at the heart of the action as a commentator, columnist and presenter, making her the perfect person to tell this amazing story.’

The Red Roses is scheduled for publication in Spring 2024. The Arena Sport team are thrilled to welcome Jessica to our expanding list of talented sports writers and look forward to bringing the story of England’s Red Roses to the world.

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