This summer had so many things in it that never got blogged, one of which was when Fran got to wear an England shirt.
After a shaky start to her rugby playing career (roughly 6 years ago when we took her to play in cold and MUD and she told us she hated us!) Fran got into playing Touch Rugby; over the last couple of years she has moved out of Ladies Contact and she and Max have got more and more into this non-contact, fast and technically quite different version of the game. She’s played locally, for the North of England, the Midlands and this summer, for the England Ladies Under 18 squad.
As a gymnast she’s used to being a lone competitor, up against your team mates and peers even when you also compete as a club and in our particular gym she has to cope with being very much alone at the top end (age-wise, even if less so in terms of ability now). So team sport has been something very new to her and she’s clearly really loved training meets, games, tournaments and fighting for a place in a squad.
She went up to Nottingham University with ‘the girls’, stayed in halls and driving up the next day and seeing her walking across the grounds with her team was a special moment for me; proud but also a shockingly sweet but emotional moment of realising how almost grown she is.
It’s an exciting game – and I don’t say that lightly, because generally pitch games bore me – but the 2 days of games were grippingly exciting to watch.
I love that no one can ever take away from her that she played at England level. Who knows where it will take her? She and Max are also now both qualified coaches too, so as an emerging sport it is an exciting time to be involved. It’s mixed gender as well mixed age right up to top level and they both enjoy playing (and indeed so do Maddy and Amelie) in a multi-age group at weekends.
If you’ve got a local club, I heartily recommend going along and giving it a try. And if, like Max, you then find local isn’t quite local enough, you can always set up your own 🙂