army v navy 
Saturday 4th May 2024


Jane West Interview - Women's History Month

How and why did you get into women’s rugby in the first place?
In 1997, while serving at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, I was approached by my friend, Jane Pizzi, who asked if I would be interested in trying rugby. Having never played before, but as a keen sportswoman and
new to the RN, I was eager to try anything. So I agreed.

The training camp took place at HMS Collingwood over a cold weekend somewhere between Feb - Apr in 1997 with coaches Eddie Over, Steve Wrigglesworth, and Steve Melbourne. This is where I learned the
basics of what would soon become my new favourite sport. Cold, wet, muddy, bruised (and confused for the most part) I thoroughly enjoyed the training weekend which ended with a fixture on the Sunday
against an Army team who were at the same stage of development as the RN team. I was hooked! Fast forward to 2006 when I lead the team out as their Captain for the Inter Service Championships, I am living proof that the player pathway works. This was one of the reasons I applied for the Director of Community role; I have complete faith in the RNRU model and believe that anyone can go from grass roots to representative standard with hard work and dedication.

Do you think women’s rugby is growing in popularity and, if so, why?
Yes, I do think women’s rugby is growing in popularity and I believe this is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the success of the Red Roses has catapulted the sport into the limelight and the forefront of female sporting achievements, alongside women’s football.
Secondly, the Tyrells Premiership and the Allianz Cup have also been a catalyst for growth in the sport as well as professionalising women’s rugby.

Thirdly, girls from a young age now have a platform to aim for, they no longer have to stop age-grade rugby because they move into contact fixtures as girls cannot play with boys past a certain age, so the
girls are left to watch from the sidelines. The majority of clubs now have their own female teams in the youth section, U18’s, and also adult female teams to complete the pathway and ensure females can play
the sport at all ages, just like boys and men can. Women can take this sport as far as they want to which is a huge step forward and women’s rugby continues to gather momentum as we work towards the
Rugby World Cup in 2025. The RFU Every Rose Action Plan is also a clear indication that the women’s game is fully supported from our Governing Body down to Constituent Bodies which helps Community
clubs support the growth of the women’s game at Community level.

Any advice you would like to give to someone starting out today?
Commit to training, especially when the weather is cold, wet, miserable and uninviting and always remember you are not an individual on or off the pitch, the team effort matters more than you. Above all else, enjoy every element of the sport and take every opportunity that is presented to you, you never know where it might lead.

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