There’s not too many women in England who can call themselves professional rugby players.
In fact, there’s only 18 full-time players in the RFU’s Elite Player Squad this season.
Medway’s Rachael Burford is among them, testimony to her ability to remain at the top for more than a decade.
This sport is changing. Rapidly. Now in full-time training, the team have been rebranded as the Red Roses and you need to go through a communications manager to carry out interviews.
The RFU want to double the number of women and girls playing to 50,000 by 2019 and have invested £20million into the project of keeping England on top of the world.
It is three years since Burford helped England win the World Cup – and the defence of their title is in Ireland this August.
“It’s not too far away from the back of our minds,” said Burford. “We’ve got tournaments in between then and now but they are building blocks to getting there.
“It’s one thing that we have – we know what it’s like to win it. But that was three years ago now. We’ve got to constantly raise the bar.
“It would be incredible to go to the World Cup and be part of the squad.”
Burford won her 60th cap at Twickenham in November and was back at the home of rugby last weekend as England started their Six Nations campaign with a win against France.
Such is the prominence the team now enjoy, England met 2016 champions France after the conclusion of the men’s game. Free entry ensured a bumper crowd and Sky Sports provided live television coverage.
“We’re excited because it’s the build-up to a World Cup year,” said 30-year-old Burford.
“We’ve come back in September for the autumn internationals, that was the start of the year for us and now we’ve got Six Nations and a summer tour before the World Cup.
“We’ve got a strong chance but it’s going to be the most competitive Six Nations we’ve ever taken part in.
“If we want to win the World Cup this year then we need to get close. We haven’t won this title for a few years.
“It’s amazing when you run out at Twickenham as you feel the nation is behind you.
“It’s great for family and friends to be there and the fact we’ve got the opportunity to open the Six Nations there this year is great.”
It’s quite a contrast to when Burford made her debut in 2006.
She said: “When I first started, the fixtures were the Six Nations and that was it. They were the fixtures.
“Now there’s the autumn internationals and summer tours. It’s full-on throughout the year and we’ve only ever done two pre-seasons.
“I’ve been lucky to play at the top level for 11 years, so it has been quite memorable.
“When I came into the squad when I was 19 or 20, a lot of the older players left and I went into a senior role quite quickly.
“The luxury of being fit and focused gives us the potential to improve and be better.”
It’s not just England that are changing. The rest of the world are also moving forward at similar speed. It means the competition and quality is reaching a new high.
“A lot of unions are heavily investing in their side,” added Burford.
“France, Ireland and Wales are all extremely competitive. They’ve got contracted players as well. They look after their players a lot now, it brings up the competition.
“All of us, our athleticism and rugby ability has changed. Everyone has improved, including skill levels.
“It’s always been said that forwards don’t play but that’s out of the game now. They are phenomenal in open play, everyone is skilful from 1 to 23.”
Burford has clearly embraced the change in the sport and enjoys the benefits but it’s not been all highs.
There was the heartache of missing out on selection for the Rio Olympics last summer.
Having been part of the squad building up to the Games, she failed to make the final cut.
But Burford hasn’t got to the top without having the mental steel to back her ability on the pitch.
“You learn from it – you don’t just grow on the pitch,” she reflected, keen not to dwell on such a low. “All of us have been through some horrible stuff.
“To be part of a big process like that and the history that was made was incredible.
“It’s people that I’ve played with for the last 16 years, so you still feel part of it.”
Given the schedule, it is not surprising the Burford Academy has taken something of a backseat this year.
But that desire to provide a platform for girls to enjoy the game remains, as does Burford’s plan to finish her playing days where it all started – in Medway.