In the wake of Team GB's valiant Olympic effort, World Cup winner Nolli Waterman believes an ever-increasing swell of exposure means there's never been a better time for women and girls to give rugby a go.
Both the men's and women's sides fell agonisingly short of a podium place in Tokyo with fourth-place finishes, but the latter impressed during a campaign that included 21-12 victory over the much-fancied USA in the quarterfinals.
The inclusion of the sevens format at a second consecutive Olympics is the latest example of the women's game featuring on the global stage, while England were crowned winners of a standalone Women's Six Nations earlier this year and Harlequins won a hugely competitive Allianz Premier 15s final.
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Waterman - who won 82 caps for the Red Roses - is hoping the ever-increasing profile of women's rugby can serve as inspiration for women and girls up and down the country to get down to their local Warrior Camp.
Warrior Camps are introductory taster sessions based on fitness and fun and form part of Allianz Inner Warrior, an England Rugby campaign aimed at introducing rugby to women and girls who have never played before, or for those who want to return to the game.
"I was part of the sevens team at Rio 2016 that finished fourth so I know how the Team GB girls will be feeling, but they have been wonderful role models and incredibly inspiring throughout," said former fullback Waterman, who played a key role in England's 2014 global triumph.
"It wasn't just their amazing levels of athleticism and skill, but all of their camaraderie as well. All the arms around each other, the smiles, the teamwork, the highs, and the lows - it's been amazing to watch the girls and if I was a parent, I'd want my young girl to be looking up to them.
"In my heart rugby has always been unbelievable but what's amazing right now is that we have so much more access to these incredible women, and people are seeing that rugby isn't just for men.
"Internationally and domestically the standard of women's rugby is being pushed every year and the access is increasing, and I think that represents an unreal time for more females of all abilities to really get stuck into rugby."
Over 20,000 women have attended Warrior Camps since the launch of the campaign, with one-and-a-half hour sessions being conducted at clubs across the country for girls (11+) in August, and women in September.
With most elite teams in world rugby featuring players that have transitioned to the sport from other backgrounds, Waterman is keen to stress that women from all walks of life should try and implement their skills in rugby's fun-filled environment.
She said: "In Team GB sevens we've got athletes in Deborah Fleming and Emma Uren - they were sprinters. We've got netballers, hockey players - all sorts of people that have come together from different sports and found rugby, and now they're thriving.
"But the best thing about the Warrior Camps is that there's no pressure whatsoever. Some people might aspire to go on and play at the highest level, but it's not just about that.
"It's also about coming and taking part, having fun, meeting people and just getting out of the house. It's important to remember to give yourself time.
"Whether you've picked up a rugby ball before or not, finding that time to give back to yourself and find that hour in the week to be able to go and enjoy yourself again is really important. I know that rugby is such a perfect way to do that."
Besides the physical benefits provided by such a competitive sport Waterman cites some of the off-field plus-points associated with rugby, and the 36-year-old believes Allianz Inner Warrior perfectly encapsulates all that is good about the game.
She added: "One of the hardest things I've found since I retired from playing at the top level is the fact that, yes the rugby was fun, but actually seeing my mates was one of the bits I loved the most.
"On the pitch you're put in a situation which you can't deal with on your own, and that crosses over into life with the way you work with different people, the way you communicate and the way you make decisions under pressure.
"Then at the end of the training session or game you go into the clubhouse, have a drink and some food together, and that's when you really just get to know people and enjoy being out of the house and being active.
"I've loved attending different Warrior Camps and seeing women and girls going outside of their comfort zone, but then emerging with huge smiles on their faces, eager for more!
"My message to all women out there is to find their local Warrior Camp, get out on the pitch and give rugby a go!"
Visit for more information and to find a Warrior Camp near you.
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