England's Natasha Hunt runs with the ball against Scotland
Natasha Hunt has played for England in both XV-a-side and sevens

England scrum-half Natasha Hunt says playing a shortened Women’s Six Nations this year is “gutting”.

The coronavirus-enforced changes mean each team will play three fixtures in April, while the men’s tournament is being played in its usual format.

With the 2021 World Cup set to be postponed, there have been calls to extend the Women’s Six Nations again.

“It’s not the Six Nations, it’s two games and then a final,” Hunt told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly.

“When the announcement came everyone was posting it like it was this amazing thing. But for me it was gutting.

“I completely appreciate the financial burden and how difficult it is to get these games on. But for me that’s the one they’ve given up on too easily.”

The Six Nations announced in February that the tournament would be delayed for two months and teams would be split into two pools.

Each team will play two pool games, one home and one away, before matches to decide placings on the final weekend and Hunt says the format is “not good enough”.

Players paying for surgery ‘outrageous’

Hunt’s participation in the tournament may be in doubt after she sustained a knee injury in Gloucester-Hartpury’s Premier 15s loss to Harlequins on Saturday.

The 31-year-old is awaiting further scans to learn the extent of the problem but described how lucky she feels that her club offers players medical insurance for such situations.

Injured Wales flanker Alisha Butchers was not so fortunate. Club Bristol Bears’ insurance part-funded the ankle surgery she needed, but the international was forced to crowdfund the remaining amount.

Hunt described Butchers’ situation as “outrageous”.

“Players who are putting everything in – working full-time jobs and training like a full-time athlete – are having to fund their own surgeries,” she continued.

“I just think it’s madness. Minimum standards have to be in place to insure players.

“As sad as it is that this has happened it has raised alarm bells and the unions are looking into it, Wales and England, to make sure there is a minimum standard across the board.”

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