Delaney Burns in training
Only just turned twenty-two, Delaney Burns has already represented her country and. made her 50th appearance for Bristol Bears.

The young second rower, who has now been in Bear Country for five years, has had a memorable 2023. Her half-century for Bears came at Ashton Gate as they hosted Sale Sharks in the opening round of the 2023/24 PWR season. “It was a very proud moment. I started playing rugby when I was seventeen, so to only be twenty-one and to be picking up my 50th cap is very special,” said Burns. During the 2022/23 season the lock played the most amount of minutes for Bristol Bears and stepped effortlessly into the vacant role left by Abbie Ward. So well, in fact, that it earnt her a call-up to the Red Roses’ Six Nations squad.

Ward has played a key part throughout in mentoring Burns at Bears, and when the forward from Poole received the nod for the Red Roses squad, the two were on the phone to each other straight away. “Abbie was actually on holiday when I received the call-up, so I really appreciated her taking the time to talk me through how she calls the line-outs for the Red Roses. “In my first training session with them I was asked to call the second line-out, and without that preparation and Abbie’s help I wouldn’t have been able to deliver.

“I really wanted to go in there and put my best foot forward, and with Abbie’s help I was able to do that.” Burns featured three times for England over the Six Nations and then went on to join up with the Red Roses’ training squad ahead of the Summer Series. However, she just missed out on a place for the WXV tournament. “It’s one of those things. I was obviously disappointed not to receive a call-up. I just need to keep gaining experience and building on the things that I’m already good at. “We already know that my line-out work is good, but it can always be better and that’s the same with my attack and defence. I just need to keep pushing and making myself the best player I can be.” Being an England player not only comes with the pride of representing your country, but also leading the way within the women’s game. The same can be said for Bristol Bears, a side who were the first in the league’s history to have their names on the back of their playing shirts.

“It’s massively important that at Bears we continue to lead from the front. We want people in however many years’ time, when they ask which women’s team was the first to have players’ names on the backs of their shirts, to know that it was Bristol Bears. “We want to be the first team that does the double, so winning the Cup and the Premiership. We are a very ambitious side that is more than capable of doing these things.” Achieving silver ware with the Red Roses is also something which is on Burns’ mind. With little over three months to go until the 2024 Women’s Six Nations, the chance to represent her country is what the lock is working towards. “I very much want to be a part of that squad. I will be spending the next few months working towards that and just putting my best foot forward. “It means a lot to represent my country. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, even though I started off in rugby late on, I’ve always wanted to be a professional athlete and play for England. “Now that I have a few caps under my belt I just want to keep making appearances. I not only want to be reaching 50 caps at club level with the Bears, I want to reach 50 caps for England too.”