After first picking up a rugby ball aged five at my local rugby club, Leicester Forest East RFC, I probably should have realised that this sport was soon to encompass my whole life. 17 years later and I play rugby for England and I’m a Sports Science graduate.
I earned my first cap aged 18 in the Nations Cup of 2008; which was such a shock because I had just booked a holiday only a week earlier in celebration of finishing my A-levels!
Since then I have gone on to win 40 international caps in four years; including four Six Nations Championships, three Nations Cup titles, an European Cup crown in both XVs and Sevens, an IRB Challenge Cup Sevens title in London, the World Universities Sevens and I was also part of the team that finished second at the 2010 Rugby World Cup. It’s been a pretty hectic four years, especially as I was also studying for a BSc at Leeds Metropolitan University!
A farmer’s daughter from Leicestershire, I’m also a huge Leicester Tigers fan and whenever possible endeavour to get to Welford Road to watch them play. Despite what many of my team mates think I don’t practise my rugby skills by tackling cows or throwing straw bales around, but the farm has certainly acted as a very convenient training ground for me over the years! However, I shall soon be living in Birmingham as I start my new job as a PE Assistant at King Edwards Boys School in September. I am excited about this new chapter in my life but packing and moving may be the first hurdle!
The new 2012/2013 is fast approaching and Lichfield RFC, my club team, have our first pre-season game at the weekend which is then quickly followed by a Midlands derby against Worcester RFC to kick start the Premiership season.
Having just returned from island hopping in Greece for three weeks the imminent start is looming all too quickly. Mo Hunt, who plays scrum-half for England, and I took the opportunity of having a free summer to take a much needed break on the Greek islands which are beautiful. We used it as a chance to fully re-charge the batteries and minus a very competitive game of volleyball with some Kiwis and the traditional bat and ball on the beach no training was done. I think my body is already apprehensive about getting stuck back into training, and Mo (whose real name is Natasha - best not to ask!) is struggling to move today after a gym session yesterday. Although I enjoyed the time away I have also missed that ‘just trained’ feeling so am excited to return to training.
The motivation for training is always there and this season is no different; having had the best season in Lichfield’s history last term it will be great to pick up where we left off. Also, on an international level, we have Autumn tests against the world champions New Zealand which are becoming a welcome addition to our programme in late November. There is also the Sevens programme, which with it being a World Cup year, holds great importance, with the beginning of the series in Dubai again in November.
An exciting few months are certainly ahead but first off it’s back to the gym to knock the last three weeks out of my system and hit the ground running when the season starts.
Images provided by rugbymatters.net