Support through Sport UK's Helen Keeling spoke to the England Women's Rugby Captain - Katy McLean - for womensportreport.com. See part of the interview below ...
Hi Katy. The England Women’s Team, of which you are Captain, has taken seven consecutive Six Nations titles (six of them Grand Slams), it’s had some spectacular wins against the Black Ferns (New Zealand’s Women’s National Side), the team lifted the European Cup this year and you’ve personally secured over 50 Caps and have scored over 300 Test points. That’s a lot of highs! What was your best moment?
There’s been a lot of highlights. Obviously playing in the Women’s World Cup on home soil, in London, was absolutely amazing. Sadly the result didn’t go our way, but to play at Twickenham for the first time against New Zealand was a brilliant opportunity. I’ve been really lucky in my career: I’ve had some really good games, won European Cups and been involved in some close games against teams such as France. It’s been amazing and I can’t wait to get the season going, and to play at Twickenham again in the Autumn.
Participation in women’s rugby is currently at an all-time high, with an estimated 13,000 women and girls playing the game across over 500 clubs. What’s so great about the sport and why would you encourage girls to give it a go?
There are numerous reasons to get involved. The good thing about rugby is that it’s really inclusive. It doesn’t matter about your skills, your body shape or your fitness levels, there’s so many forms of the game to try, from tag and touch rugby all the way up to 15-a-side.
Women’s rugby was integrated into the RFU earlier this year and it was massive for us. They’re really pushing the women’s game right now and there’s lots of opportunities to go and play.
What did you think of the wheelchair rugby (dubbed ‘murderball’) at the recent Paralympics?
I was quite lucky as one of the guys on the team used to train in Gateshead, so I had a little bit of involvement in it. It’s great!
The Paralympic and Olympics were such massive events for England to host, so it’s a case of leveraging everything that’s been achieved. There have been a lot of positives for women’s sport this summer, a lot of great medals that the girls went and won, and I think it’s really important for rugby just to build on that.
Obviously looking ahead to Rio with the Sevens, we need to use that momentum in women’s sport, get more women playing, get more women involved, and keep that going. That’s going to be something we think about going into the Autumn internationals.
There are striking similarities between yourself and Jonny Wilkinson (like the Jonny of a few years ago, Katy’s England Captain, the Captain of a North-Eastern club and is a Fly Half). As such, is it safe to say that Jonny was, and is, one of your favourite players in the men’s game?
It’s a massive honour to be compared to somebody like Jonny, who was an absolute legend of the game. He’s a hero of mine and somebody I looked up to when I was coming through. I had the opportunity to work with him and he’s a really lovely guy, such a professional, and he really shows how dedicated you have to be in rugby to be the best. He’s definitely an inspiration to me: the way he plays, his workrate, and he’s a tactically very good No.10 - so, yes, it’s a nice comparison!
Like Jonny, might you also consider spending the end of your career playing for a European team?
At the moment, my big focus is England Rugby and to make sure I’m in the best shape. Our Premiership and league system is really good here thanks to the RFU, so I definitely want to stay here and compete for my place. As England Captain, I need to make sure I perform - and the best place for me to be doing that is here in England.
Thanks, Katy - and love the new England kit!