CJ Adams: Never look back.
Although the Rugby League World Cup is still 3 years away, the legacy of the game in England is already starting to take shape. One of the key components of this legacy is the development of the Ladies game, and the long overdue Women's Super League.
Nobody has wanted an elite, respected level of Girls and Womens Rugby more than CJ Adams. At 40 years old CJ has a wealth of Rugby experience in both codes, having played for the British Army Rugby Union, Royal Logistic Corp, Hull FC Ladies and more recently York City Knights Ladies.
I recently caught up with CJ to discuss her grassroots story and her current thoughts on the elite level of Ladies Rugby League.
1. How would you describe the early stages of your rugby development?
" Playing for the Army and my corps team we had a different ethos to my civilian clubs the training was hard ( really hard ) My army Coach was brutal and he did not suffer fools if you didn’t make the grade you weren’t playing. We also had a female Army Physical Training Instructor and I really hated being trained by her. She wouldn’t let you stop till you were sick through your ears!! I swore down I never wanted to meet her again!
Until a hot summers Tuesday I turned up at Acton to join Wasps ladies. I heard a voice,a voice I used to shudder too and stood right there in front of me was that very same PTI!
"Pre season training and being sick was something she was extremely set on. I spent 2 1/2 hrs carrying a log around the pitch sweating through my eye balls listening to her screams and bellows, it was exactly the same as 15 years ago and I swear to God she enjoyed every minute of it!
That night I went home and actually cried thinking it’s gonna happen all again on Thursday. I have won many trophy’s with that woman, but I’d rather go back to Afghanistan than go through her training regime".
2. What motivates you to continue to play rugby at an age where most people would be easing away from the sport?
" I’ve faced many challenges in life, my age never seems to be one of them. I lost a considerable amount of weight and went from being a Rugby union loose head prop to a league winger. The older I get the quicker and leaner I have become. When I first started playing, Hull had a team called Hull vixens but my mother would not let me play. She said it wasn't lady like so I had to wait until I joined the military to play. It was a different code and to be honest I struggled with the transition of knowing league to union. I played my first game at 17. My mother came to watch me play once. She was appalled by the sport and I never invited her again. Women of my mother’s age were brought up with less opportunity than I did, I got that but there wasn’t anything apart from amateur rugby league for us and it’s taken over 25 years for it to progress to Super League. Regardless of my age I was gonna play in super league no matter what!"
3. How would you describe your time at Hull FC Ladies?
" I am an avid Hull Fc supporter if you cut me in half I’m black and white. For years I’ve always wanted to represent Hull FC. I am constantly challenging myself when rugby season is over I enter fitness modelling contest to keep up my love of strength and conditioning, by not knowing if Hull fc would be entering the women's super league and my age I had to think about what I wanted to achieve in the short time I have left in my Rugby career. I picked up an injury and was really worried that this season may be my last, I didn't know how long I could continue playing rugby. I have friends playing for York city knights ladies who were in the women's super league So I thought once my injury was healed I would push myself and give the women's Super League a shot. I played my first game for York City Knights ladies 1 week before my 40th birthday"
4. What are you hoping to achieve at York?
" I looked to York City Knights ladies team because I believe their spirit and determination was exactly the same as mine. Week in week out those ladies go against teams that have played against each other for a long time. The team dig in and give it there all. There’s no cliques or groups it’s exactly that, a well rounded team. Both the Head Coach and Assistant Coach have welcomed me with open arms. I couldn’t of asked for better team cohesion and environment."
5. What are your thoughts on the Women's Super League now that the inaugural season has come to an end?
" My thoughts on super league are thoughts of elation, acceptance and most importantly being respected. Our sport is progressing fast and to think we are being a accepted and the lads are behind gives me great hope for the young women in years to come. I have a poem I used to read to myself before a game, it gave me great encouragement to give my all for whatever team or shirt I was wearing:
Somewhere between the athlete you have become, hours of training and the coaches that have pushed you. Is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back, play for her...”