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Red Roses mums can inspire women everywhere, says attack coach Meadows

Meadows was briefly England U20s head coach before stepping up to work with the senior Red Roses
Meadows was briefly England U20s head coach before stepping up to work with the senior Red Roses (Gemma L Porter)

The mothers in the Red Roses squad are inspirations to women everywhere, says England attack coach Lou Meadows.

Second row star Abbie Ward returned to playing rugby just 17 weeks after giving birth to her daughter and front-rower Vickii Cornborough is working towards a return after having twins in July last year.

Meadows was speaking as she promoted the Allianz Inner Warrior camps, taking place until 21 January which aim to introduce rugby to women who have never played before or those who want to get back involved.

“We've got role models across the game now,” mum-of-two Meadows said. “You've got them at the top end and the accessibility to people being able to watch women's rugby from all age groups is brilliant.

“And we've also got players now in the Red Roses who are mums and you've got other women looking at that going, ‘Wow, they're playing rugby, they've had a baby, and they're coming back to it again’, which is brilliant.

“That opportunity to see what you could be part of as well, whether it's as a player or as a coach.

“It needed to be something that was more accessible, more available, and easy to get to view and to notice, because I think we're quite reluctant to ask sometimes.

Meadows, a mum of two, coaches several mothers in the Red Roses squad including captain Marlie Packer
Meadows, a mum of two, coaches several mothers in the Red Roses squad including captain Marlie Packer (Gemma L Porter)

“Especially when it's always been considered this male-dominated sport because it's always been easier for men to be part of the game.

“It's actually getting to the point where it's a lot easier for women to be part of the game and that's at all levels and I think that's really, really exciting.”

The Allianz Inner Warrior Camps are based on fitness and fun and meeting new people who want to try a new activity.

More than 25,000 women and girls have taken part in rugby since the programme launched in 2017 with over 1,000 camps being delivered by clubs across the country.

Meadows stopped playing when she had her children but had already begun her coaching journey that has led her to the Red Roses coaching set-up.

The former England Women’s U20s head coach explained how the game has informed who she is as a person both physically and mentally.

She added: “It’s given me friends for life and friends all over the world, you're naturally starting to grow yourself as an individual because you're meeting all these people from different cultures and backgrounds.

“So, you're widening your whole understanding of the world through this sport, which is brilliant.

“I think physically it's challenged me more than anything ever has. I played netball for years at quite a high level, and hockey and lacrosse and a few others but rugby has just got something completely different to it as a contact sport.

“You're so reliant on your team, you can't do it without them, and I think that's a massive bonding opportunity and why you grow such strong friendships through it. And you get to push yourself in ways that you didn't think was possible.

“It's always given me that natural fitness component in my life and now regardless of if I'm playing or not, I challenge myself to stay fit to be able to do that if I wanted to.

“It makes me a great role model for other women, but also for my own kids. It's genuinely grown me into a better, stronger and more well-rounded individual than I would have ever been if I hadn't got involved in this sport.”

Allianz Inner Warrior is an England Rugby campaign to introduce rugby to those who have never played before or those who want to get back involved. To find out more, visit: https://www.englandrugby.com/participation/playing/ways-to-play/inner-warrior