As women’s Inter Service rugby moves into its 20th year, Rose Dixon, Captain of the Royal Navy, prepares for the first of this year’s Inter Services Matches at Plymouth on 25 March.
When you joined the Navy you were playing Premiership rugby. Has that continued and, if so, how does that fit in with your Navy career?
I joined the Navy in January 2018 by which time I had already been with Premiership side Wasps Women for approximately three years. My Phase 2 instructors were incredibly supportive of my Rugby career and immediately directed me towards the Royal Navy Rugby Union (W), where I was awarded my first Royal Navy (W) cap that year. Over the next two years, I commuted after work from HMS Collingwood to Wasps Women in Ealing, West London, twice a week for training and on weekends for match days. At times this was quite difficult to manage due to being in Phase 2 training, but my instructors and CO were as accommodating as possible when it came to both Civilian and Military Rugby Commitments, and I was able to pass out of Phase 2 whilst also maintaining my Rugby Career. Following COVID-19 and a change in working location I am able to play regularly at my local Championship club, perform as an athlete and develop my professional career at the same time.
How and why did you get into women’s rugby in the first place?
My friend’s brother played age-grade rugby at our local club in Camberley. They had a Rugby open day and we decided to tag along and get involved. The rest is history!
I had always been a Tennis Player up to this point, which can be quite a solitary sport, so I relished the opportunity to be surrounded by people and in a team.
What is a typical training week like?
Civi Club: We train for two hours twice a week and play on weekends. We are also given Strength and Conditioning programmes to complete in our own time outside of training sessions.
Royal Navy Rugby: During camps we train twice daily, a mixture of drills on the pitch, team run-throughs, technical indoor sessions and pool recovery. All extras (gym sessions, extra skills) are completed in our free time during training camps and in our spare time when we are not in camp.
What do you look forward to most on a match day?
Match days are really exciting and such a buzz. My favourite part of a match day is kick-off, everyone is raring to go and get the first carry or first hit in. We want to be the team that makes the biggest impact and that starts from kick-off.
Any advice you would like to give to someone starting out today.
My advice to anyone starting out today would be to give it a go, even if you think it's not for you. Enjoy it and embrace it! Rugby is one of the most inclusive environments I've ever experienced and there is a place for everyone within rugby. You have a whole team of people who are there to learn and help you learn, and everyone rallies around each other. The team ethos you find within a rugby squad is unparalleled. The contact element can be daunting but once you get a taste of it, you'll love it! Get stuck in, you won't look back.