Saracens star Miell credits hometown influence as she targets England return

·3 min read
Chantelle Miell in action for Saracens (Credit: Saracens Women)

“A tiny village club in the middle of nowhere” could be the source of the next generation of Tyrrells Premier 15s stars.

That’s the view of Saracens speedster Chantelle Miell, who believes Winscombe RFC’s thriving youth section is starting to produce a host of burgeoning talents that are set for big futures in the sport.

The England Sevens ace is a product of the Somerset club that had just three girls on their books when she joined 15 years ago.

But now Winscombe is blossoming with three youth sections and a women’s side – each consisting of 20 players.

And Miell is amazed by her hometown club’s transformation as she reflects on how her rugby journey began.

“I wasn’t aware that girls played rugby,” said the 22-year-old wing.

“I used to get pretty bored on the sidelines while my brother was playing but I noticed there was a girl in my age group and that’s what got me into it. Since then I just fell in love with it.

“It was completely different back then and going back to my first club now they have got a full-on female section that runs from under 13s right up until the senior team.

“It’s crazy to think that it has grown that much.”

After stints at local clubs Yatton, Melksham and Cleve, Miell burst onto the scene with Bristol and secured an England Sevens contract in 2017.

Bristol-born Miell is now starring for high-flying Saracens after making the move to London part way through the 2018-19 season but she refuses to forget her roots.

“Whenever I get an opportunity to go home I pop down to the club on a Sunday or if I am back home on a weekday do their evening training,” Miell said.

“Some of the girls that I have coached are now playing at Bristol and have got into the England Under-18s Sevens squad.

“It is really nice to see that we have produced such great players already.

“Lucy Burgess is at Bristol and Jess Cooksey is playing up at Darlington Mowden Park Sharks having gone to Durham University.

“My brother’s team (at Winscombe) were really successful and they’ve got a boy, called Will Capon, that’s playing at Bristol now and has been offered a four-year contract.

“He is often sitting on the bench in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby and was nominated for the Premiership Rugby Cup Breakthrough Player Award.

“It’s not doing bad for a tiny village club in the middle of nowhere.”

Miell helped Saracens win the Tyrrells Premier 15s in her first season and has yet to taste defeat this term with the London club winning all 12 matches.

And while the Tyrrells Premier 15s season has since been suspended due to Coronavirus, she hopes her fine club form will result in a return to the international set-up and a full-time England contract.

“My ambition is to break back into the England Sevens squad,” Miell added. “I fell in love with sevens when I was in there, it was great.

“It suits my skillset and it’s nice to be able to push yourself in training four days a week. Your job was to make sure you are at the top of your game.”