Sue Day is one of the stars of women’s rugby. With an international career that started in 1997, Sue has played in the last three Rugby World Cup tournaments as well as having a successful club career with her club team Wasps.
We caught up with Sue having recently returned from captaining the England squad at the Dubai Sevens World Cup.
After the seven’s tournament in Dubai how do you reflect on being knocked out in the quarter finals?
I think it was a brilliant first world cup for women’s rugby sevens I think the whole occasion was really well organised and it was really exciting to be a part of. In terms of our performance obviously it was really disappointing to lose in the quarter finals but we lost to the eventual winners and the second seeds. I think that any tournament would be a pretty poor if there weren’t the chance that the second seeds can’t beat the number one seeds.
It’s the nature of sevens that it can turn on one thing and that it’s quite unpredictable. Australia were capable of beating us because they are the second seeds in the world cup.
We were capable of winning the tournament but it didn’t happen for us on the day and obviously we’re disappointed but it was an amazing experience to be part of we couldn’t have given it anymore. We couldn’t have put anymore into the preparation and anymore of our heart and soul into it. While I’m extremely disappointed I’m also very proud of the whole squad.
Was it difficult for a women’s rugby team to play out in Dubai with such a different culture?
No not at all. I think the whole rugby sevens occasion out there is quite detached from the culture. From my personal experience we saw the inside of the hotel and the rugby stadium and a few training pitches and not much else. There is a huge tradition of rugby out in Dubai, I’ve played in Dubai sevens tournaments a couple of times before and there have never been any issues before at all.
How have you seen women’s rugby develop in the years you have been playing?
I think like any sport and especially a relatively young sport you see the skill levels improve and the standing of the sport improve.
One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed is a lot of people of my generation took up sport at university relatively late on, where as a lot of the players coming through now have been playing since they were five or six and that is reflected in the age of the squad. You’ve got players that are 18, 19 or 20 playing for England which back in my day would have been much less likely.
How do you balance a working life with international sport?
From a personal perspective for years I worked part-time. I worked three days a week and my employer was really supportive and helped me to be flexible in those three days. They allowed me to work when I needed to work and train when I needed to train and they also gave me huge amounts of time off when I needed to play at World Cup’s and things like that.
When you first started playing rugby was it hard as a female because it is such a male dominated sport?
I grew up in a football area anyway so I didn’t really see a rugby ball at school, there just wasn’t rugby around. I really didn’t come across rugby until university. From the perspective of the people I see coming into the squad now compared to ten years ago, the age is younger because they start at a much younger age.
I think tag rugby has a lot to do with that, it is easier to persuade parents that their daughters ought to be playing tag than full contact rugby. And that then gives you the chance to educate people and realise that girls can play full contact sports too
What do you think the future holds for women’s rugby?
I think the sevens World Cup proved the quality of rugby we have out there and it shows how successful a tournament can be joint with the men. The fifteens World Cup is in England next year and I think the fact it’s in a country with a big tradition of rugby will hopefully help the game to reach a wider audience.
The last few World Cup’s have been really successful in Canada, Spain and Holland but with no disrespect even though they are great up and coming rugby nations, they don’t have that longstanding tradition of rugby. Hopefully by having it in a country where there is that tradition of rugby union we might be able to reach a wider audience.
By Scarlett Smith
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