Maria Crowfoot: The game is now being recognised!
Having recently thrashed Wales 52-nil and Italy 42-7 there is no doubt the Women's Rugby Union set up is thriving! The future of the sport is showing great promise with so many girls becoming immersed in rugby.
I recently caught up with Maria Crawfoot, a talented young athlete who has benefited from both the playing and non-playing opportunities created by Rugby, including playing at Kingsholm stadium and meeting Royals!
Here's what Maria had to say to GRM:
1. What's your Grassroots Story?
" I started playing when I was four, after watching my older brother play at Blandford RFC, my Dad took me down the following Sunday to Minnis. We moved north to the Midlands and my recent club was Loughborough Ladies who were promoted in my first season to Championship North. I played here whilst also playing for Loughborough Students 1XV. After almost 19 years I'm still very much in limbo about my position but narrow it down to scrum, fly half or centre; with the occasional much wanted blowout at flanker!
2. How would you describe the current level of women’s rugby?
" You can already see the improvement of the women's game in terms of the Tyrrells Premier 15s, players are now getting recognised at both national and international level who may not have before. Having played for the championship side, I think the national cup needs a structure. It's a great competition, giving teams new opposition, opportunity to play opponents in lower and higher leagues. But this season, once you lost one game, you were out. With nothing for the runners up it means teams are cancelling and not fulfilling fixtures. Especially with all the snow this year it's been difficult. Last year, we won the intermediate plate and played against new opposition which is always a great experience and poses new challenges"
3. Where’s the best and worst place you’ve played rugby?
" The best place or memory I've had is playing at Kingsholm stadium after the Wasps vs Gloucester game. A few of us made a barbarians team to play what is now the premiership Gloucester-Hartpury team. The final score was 12 - 7 and considering we'd only met in the hours before KO it was an amazing day. We turned up with no balls, waterballs and no idea of positions. The feeling of playing in a stadium of that prestige was amazing, the only downside was the lack of audience. There was an incredible team morale throughout the game and so enjoyable. Seeing yourself on the big screen was incredible too. Last season for both club and county was incredible, winning two plates and playing at Richmond rugby club was great. We came from 22-12 down to win 32-29 which just shows the resilience and belief we had as a squad. I'm not sure of the worst! I've had some dodgy changing room/shower experiences but not sure I've got one to name and shame!
4. Outside rugby what would your friends and family say you’re most known for?
" Rugby is pretty all encompassing as its now my job! But away from it I'm told I'm pretty cheeky and crack a few jokes"
5. How did you meet prince harry and what did you say to him?
" I was lucky enough to be part of the RFU National Youth Council after having been involved in a project called Spirit of Rugby Loughborough and logging hours as a Young Rugby Ambassador. This ultimately led to the unforgettable experience of being a Pick of the Pride Ambassador where I went on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. I was then nominated to meet Prince Harry as a reward for my volunteering. It was very nerve racking but he was so lovely and put me at ease straight away. We talked about my trip to New Zealand and the infamous draw in the 3rd test. As well as the ethos of the lions and whether the tour should be more innovative or keep with traditions. John Spencer was also there, who'd I'd met previously on the lions tour. The day was also special as I was able to bring my Dad who after all those years driving me round the country, I was able to drive him to Twickenham, have a three course meal and watch the game from the Royal box."
6. What’s your long term goal in rugby?
" My long term goal is tricky, I am hugely passionate about the women and girls game and want to continue being an ambassador for that. I'm now trying my hand at being a full time coach with a few roles and want to continue to develop both myself and teams I coach. Playing for England was always a dream but unfortunately injuries and setbacks happened at the wrong times. So my ambition now would be to coach a national team. I've recently been appointed Head of Development at Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club which is a hugely exciting opportunity and role. I'm looking after player development, whilst also coaching the 2XV and helping with the colts, men's and women's section. The club had success last year and I'm delighted to build on that this season".
Written by Shawn Boatin