Specialist rugby brand Canterbury has today announced flying England full-back Ellie Kildunne and New Zealand star Eloise Blackwell as the brand’s latest ambassadors.
Fresh from helping England to become triple Six Nations winners at the weekend, Kildunne will wear Canterbury kit and will also provide feedback and advice on the future development of Canterbury’s female rugby product range.
2017 World Cup winner Blackwell will play a similar role in product development with Canterbury’s team in Australia and New Zealand ahead of the re-arranged World Cup.
One of the most exciting prospects in the rugby world, Wasps star Kildunne is capable of extraordinary moments and is already racking up a highlights reel of spectacular solo tries which frequently feature her bursting past her opponents as she crosses over the try line.
Speaking about the new partnership, she said: “I am really proud to be Canterbury’s latest female brand ambassador. Women’s rugby is continuing to grow across the world and the more exposure we can give to the game through the media or through brand deals, the bigger it will continue to become.
“I’m looking forward to working with Canterbury on their extended range of womens’ products in the future. As a brand they are synonymous with rugby and creating quality products and so I can’t wait to see what we can produce to ensure that every woman who wants to play rugby has the right kit to do so.”
Blackwell, who has played 43 test matches for New Zealand, and scored 10 tries, is among the best female rugby players in the world, famous for her powerful, dynamic game and physicality.
An Auckland high school teacher, Blackwell is admired for her authentic, warm, down-to-earth personality and epitomises the values for which Canterbury also stands.
“I’m so happy to have signed with Canterbury,” says Blackwell. “As a Kiwi rugby player, I know the deep history Canterbury has with both the game and New Zealand as a whole. I’m delighted to represent such an iconic New Zealand brand ahead of getting to defend the World Cup on home soil in 2022.”
Simon Rowe, Global Head of Sports Marketing, at Canterbury, said: “At Canterbury, our number one focus is making sure that rugby is a game which feels accessible to everybody and we hope our partnerships with Ellie and Eloise will help us achieve this goal.
“Ellie is one of the most exciting players in the country right now and often creates something out of nothing. She is a magician on the pitch and sort of player who can really help to inspire the next generation of young girls in this country. Eloise is one of the biggest names in the sport and also a fantastic role model. She is a real trailblazer and that makes them a perfect fit for us.
Born in Yorkshire in 1999, Kildunne started playing rugby for a local boys’ club when she was just five years old and during her early years played across all codes, starting with Keighley Rugby Union Football Club before stints at rugby league outfits West Park Leeds and Castleford.
Ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, she switched codes and joined Gloucester-Hartpury before swiftly making her England 15s debut during the 2018 Women’s Six Nations. After racking up an impressive try-per-game ratio, Kildunne switched again to play for England 7s and impressed in her first season with the team before suffering an injury setback. After two years with the 7s, Kildunne switched back to 15s – an opportunity which turned out to be a blessing during the recent Coronavirus pandemic as it meant she was able to continue playing regular rugby.
Like Canterbury, Kildunne is passionate about promoting the women’s game as much as possible and is hopeful that this partnership will enable her to continue doing so.
She added: “Seeing brands like Canterbury sign a female player to sit alongside the likes of Justin Tipuric and Robbie Henshaw is another big step in the right direction. For a long time I was the only girl playing in a team full of boys and I never thought rugby could be a full-time career for me.
“Hopefully young girls will see more and more of female rugby players through partnerships like this, I just want to show them that this is where we belong.”