Posted on July 15 2015
This Week's Wednesday Woman is the amazing Katy McLean MBE. She is the current Captain of England's Women Rugby team and captained them to victory in the IRB 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup. Read how she went from primary school teacher to professional rugby player below:
Bardega: Katy, can you tell us a bit about your background, what you were like growing up and what sparked your love of sports?
McLean: I was always into sport when I was growing up, I played rugby, netball, football and hockey during my teenage years.
I would say my family were massive influences in getting me into rugby as my Dad, uncle and cousin all played and my Grandad took me down to our local club Westoe in South Shields to watch games when I was little. I probably would have described myself as a typical ‘tom boy’.
Bardega: You started your career as a primary teacher - what/how did you get turned onto rugby and what led to you making it your career?
McLean: The option to play professional rugby only happened in September 2014 and that was specifically the 7’s. Up until that point we all had to work as rugby was only an amateur sport and still is in the women’s 15’s game.
Re: teaching, I have always loved working with children so teaching was the natural option for me. Like I said though, in September 2014 I was offered a professional contract and that was something that I just couldn’t turn down, even if it was a difficult decision to leave my school - Bexhill Academy. However, I know I will go back to teaching eventually.
Bardega: How important do you think visibility is in terms of getting more women into sports - what can we do to encourage more women into professional sports such as rugby (which some might view as more of a man’s sport)?
McLean: More media coverage is essential to grow the game; if women don’t know about it, how will they ever get involved? More pathways to get young girls into sport and opportunities for them to progress through the age groups would also help.
I think the continued success of the national team will hopefully show that rugby is for women, as well as men. I also believe the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup really helped to break down barriers and show that rugby isn’t just a man’s sport.
Bardega: You are a role model for many young girls but who have been your role models and how have they inspired you?
McLean: My parents were massive role models for me - my mum worked full time and always managed to fit everything in even with two young children. She never forgot anything (apart from me once at school!) and always seemed to have time to do everything.
My Dad was also great and took me and others all over the country for games and trials, and had a massive love for sport which he definitely passed on to me.
In terms the actual sport, Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter were my idols because they were both amazing fly half’s and I loved Jonny’s work ethic.
Bardega:What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
McLean: Captaining England to a World Cup win in August 2014.
Bardega: Finally what advice, if any, would you give a younger Katy?
McLean: Ride out the rough times and enjoy every opportunity because your career won’t last forever!