A FORMER Monmouth student is gunning for glory with England at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

Izzy Noel-Smith is an ex-pupil of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls and cut her rugby teeth in the junior section at Monmouth RFC.

The 29-year-old started in both of England’s Pool B victories in the 12-strong global competition, as the Red Rose thrashed Spain 56-5 and Italy 56-13.

England, the defending champions, play their final group game against the USA tomorrow (kick-off 2.30pm) – and it should be their toughest fixture of the competition yet.

“Women’s rugby is growing hugely and we are absolutely thrilled that our World Cup matches are being screened live on ITV,” she said.

“The social media coverage for the competition is also incredible.

“Women’s rugby is about empowering young girls and women and giving them the opportunity to play sport.

“Sport teaches you important lessons in life such as teamwork and respect.”

A forward who can play as an openside or blindside flanker, Noel-Smith, with 34 international caps to her name, has played in every England match in 2016 and 2017, including wins against Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The back-rower also scored a late pushover try to give England an 8-3 win over Ireland in the final match of the 2015 autumn series at Twickenham Stoop.

Away from rugby, Noel-Smith, who lived in the Herefordshire village of Much Dewchurch for 11 years, is a Year 2 teacher at Paragon Junior School in Bath.

She was living with her parents Mike and Elizabeth, who have since moved to Devon, when she first took part in women’s rugby at Hereford-based Greyhound.

“I played between the ages of eight and 14 at Monmouth rugby club and then moved to the women’s and girls’ section at Greyhound in Hereford,” she added.

“I won my first England cap in 2011 but lost my place at the end of the 2013 season.

“However, I was recalled to the side in 2015 and haven’t looked back.”

England are the top-ranked side at the World Cup and the only full-time professional squad involved.

Four-time champions New Zealand, 2014 runners-up Canada, perennial semi- finalists France and hosts Ireland are among the teams with title aspirations.

The three group winners and best runners-up go through to the last four which will be played in Belfast on August 22.

The final, also in Belfast, takes place four days later.

Noel-Smith, who plays her club rugby for Bristol, continued: “England might be the favourites to win the World Cup but we are not taking anything for granted.

“We are concentrating on each game as it comes. We have prepared well for the competition.”