RUGGER OF THE MONTH
We know how important it is to appreciate people in the women’s rugby community who are doing great things. The women’s game relies so heavily on people giving their time and effort to help it grow. We want to celebrate these people and give them a little something to say thank you.
Each month we will recognise and reward a different rugger by sending them a gift from us, and also feature them and their good work on our women’s rugby blog. From grassroots to elite level, we want to hear everything about your heroes. Do you know someone who is doing great things in the women’s rugby space?
If you want to nominate someone special be sure to drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jemma plays prop at Topsham RFC.
In her spare time, she also runs a TikTok account dedicated specifically to growing the game.
Her work in the women’s rugby space has been fantastic as she encourages women to start the sport, and frequently answers common questions about women’s rugby.
What is your why? Why do you play rugby?
I play rugby because it’s fun, empowering and it gives me a good group of friends that have similar interests to me!How did you start playing rugby?I started when I was 19, a local coach was a friend of mine who kept trying to encourage me to start playing women’s rugby. He kept saying ‘just try it, you’ll love it!’ No one else in my family plays or has any interest in rugby, so I kind of laughed it off. After a few months, I went along just to humour him and never looked back.
What made you fall in love with the sport?
What made me fall in love with the sport was the fact it was a sport where my size and strong build wasn’t a disadvantage - it was actually such a bonus. In women’s rugby there is literally a position for everyone no matter what shape/size and I’m yet to see another sport that is this varied. I also love the fact that your teammates become like a family, there is always someone you can call if you are in a crisis.
Who are the role models that made a difference to you?
As I came to the sport a lot older than some, I didn’t have role models as such. I looked more for people whose mentality and skills I admire, so from a men’s perspective James Haskell was a huge influence on my attitude to rugby – no one works harder on a pitch than he did. From the women’s perspective, always Shaunagh Brown and the Clealls; they are all such talented players with great attitudes to the sport.
What are some of the challenges that women’s rugby faces?
We do still face quite a few challenges as women in rugby. We have made progress towards equality, but progress is not the same as fully achieving it. There are still major funding and promotional issues around the women’s game and at some clubs, the attitudes towards it is sometimes poor. Unfortunately, I have had to deal with some sexism, which makes me sad as we do also have some fantastic male advocates in the women’s game. I think the biggest challenge is promotion. If we promote the game more, more women will come through clubs, then we will have an increased pool of talented internationals to keep the cycle going.
QUICK FIRE Qs
What position do you play? Have you played others as well or before?
I play Prop/Second Row
What’s your gameday ritual?
I always have a cheese sandwich. It’s weirdly good fuel!
I love weightlifting, however some of the CrossFit WODs are gnarly!
How do you want to leave the jersey better for the next generation of female athletes?
I want to leave the shirt in a place where the next generation can see the players they look up to on TV, don’t have to fight for the basics that they need and can play on a level playing field no matter what club they go to.