This week we crossed over the try-line and into Rugby, and over to the side of the women, who are making a surge in popularity on a global scale, as we have definitely seen a rise in coverage and anticipate it will only grow more, especially with a lot more schools and clubs now having strong foundations in the women’s game.
We spoke this week to an athlete who has already had the highest honour in representing her country of England and will undoubtedly be called up again, and currently plays for Saracens in the Tyrrells Premier 15s. We are lucky to speak with such a talented and humble individual and without further or do it is my pleasure to introduce:
Tell us who you are, where you are from and how long you have been playing rugby?
I am Rosie Galligan from Kent, living in Hertfordshire, and I started playing rugby in 2013 when I was 15 years old
Were you a good kid at school?
I was a bit of a class clown from year 7 to year 9, and then when it came to GCSE year, I started to settle down because I wanted to do well and fulfil my academic potential.
I went on to do A levels, finishing school with A*s in Psychology and Geography and an A in PE.
How did you first get into rugby? What made you want to do it?
Being in a rugby family, I was always exposed to the sport. Instead, I played netball, hockey, and cricket, and also went to a musical theatre school every Saturday for 10 years.
I got involved in rugby through a touch tournament in the Summer of 2013, where I was asked to stand on the pitch and score the tries (the team got more points when the girls scored).
By the end of the summer tournament, I had started getting more involved and thought I would get involved in the girl’s setup at Aylesford rugby club.
What position do you play?
What’s it like putting on the white Jersey and representing England?
I’ve only done it twice, but I am hoping that I will one day put the jersey back on and run out for my country again. You feel incredibly proud and it puts everything into perspective – like all the hours of training had paid off.
How did you come to play for Saracens?
My regional coach, Rob Cain was also coach for Saracens. He invited me down to pre-season when I turned 18.
How long have you been playing top-tier rugby for now?
I’ve been involved in the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition for 3 years. I am not a contracted England player, so that is the next step in my rugby career that I aspire to achieve.
Have you got to travel much and if so where is the most interesting place and why?
The best place I have travelled to is Canada, but the most memorable experience was playing against France in Lille for England U20s and beating them for the first time in 8 years in front of 8,000 people.
The atmosphere was electric, and silencing the French fans is unheard of – but we did it!
Explain the level of stamina that is expected of a rugby player at your level across 80 minutes to someone unknown to the sport?
As a second row, your job is to hit every other breakdown and carry hard. This requires a high level of cardiovascular endurance, where you can hit a ruck/take the ball into contact, and then bounce up again quickly to get to the next or be a ball carrier.
It is more of a steady pace fitness, compared to other positions i.e. wingers, who are more focussed on short, dynamic sprints.
What is the most demanding thing about the game of rugby?
The physicality of the game is becoming even more demanding as the standard of women’s rugby increases. Carrying a ball into contact and tackling can be knackering – you can’t really prepare yourself for match fitness unless you go ‘full smash’ in training regularly.
Are you studying or were you studying whilst playing as I know Saracens have a big training academy?
I have just finished my final year at St Marys University studying Sports Management.
Who are/is your inspirations in rugby and why?
I don’t particularly have a rugby inspiration. I am inspired by my Dad’s work ethic and drive and by the players who I play with and against – they push me to be the best version of myself on and off the field.
Talk me through a normal week of training for you?
I am currently recovering from ankle surgery so my training week is extremely busy. I rehab every morning and have a core circuit to complete every day.
I have 3 upper body sessions, 3 lower body sessions, 3 hip circuit sessions and 5 off feet conditioning sessions a week. Now I am able to walk again, I am going to start slowly introducing skill based sessions.
How does club-training differ to England training?
I noticed a huge difference in intensity. Everyone trains to their maximum potential as they know that their place in the team is not secured. Everyone is working to get that starting shirt.
You’re in the last 5 minutes of a huge game, 5 meters out: do you kick to the corner, take a scrum, take the points or tap-n-go?
It depends on what we have found most successful throughout the game. My personal preference would be to kick to the corner for a lineout – as lineout leader I feel confident in making the call under pressure.
At Saracens we pride ourselves on our driving lineout and have had a lot of success from it over the last few years.
Women’s rugby has really come leaps and bounds since I was playing, but do you feel there are still any drawbacks preventing inclusion of more women in the sport, especially from grass-roots level?
Women’s rugby is increasing in quality and it is great to see that the game has been professionalised for women.
However, I think that a gap is starting to emerge between premiership and England players. Although there are plenty of opportunities out there to play high quality rugby, only 28 female players can fully focus on rugby as their career – it’s hard to compete with players who train day in, day out.
In terms of grassroots level, I think it has taken a huge step in the right direction – the traditional view of rugby being a male dominated sport is slowly being broken down.
What more could be done to get more women in general playing rugby?
I think the social side of rugby needs to be marketed more. If it wasn’t for a fun touch tournament in summer, I wouldn’t have started rugby and I wouldn’t have represented my country. I have made friends for life through rugby – I didn’t find that in any other sport!
Is there anything else about your sport that frustrates you?
Looking at women’s rugby and women’s football, the difference in success over the last few years has been two ends of the spectrum.
There is a huge opportunity for sponsors to get involved in the sport, and for some reason we are struggling to do this. It would be fantastic for premiership players to at least be semi-professional. The amount of time and effort we put in to ultimately be playing an ‘amateur’ sport is crazy!
What has been your most memorable moment since playing?
My most memorable moment has got to be singing the national anthem before coming on to get my first cap in the 2019 Six Nations game against Ireland.
I was stood next to my best friends Zoe Harrison, Jess Breach and Sarah Beckett and remember looking up to the stand and seeing my parents waving at me singing the anthem with huge smiles on their faces!
Who’s the fastest player in your team?
The fastest player at Saracens is Lotte Clapp – she is a great player and reads the game very well.
Who’s the most likely to get sin-binned?
Poppy or Bryony Cleall are the most likely to get sin binned – they are very knowledgeable of the laws of the game, and sometimes referees don’t like this!
Top 3 players in the world at the moment and why?
Emily Scarratt – class player, has a fantastic attitude and can pretty much do everything!
Romane Menager – powerful, does her job well, difficult to play against
Poppy Cleall – plays on the edge, dominant, has a fantastic rugby brain
Do you get nervous ahead of a match and how do you manage those nerves?
I get nervous, but I try to do the same thing before each game. I usually have a bowl of pasta with cheese, get my hair plaited into 2 French plaits into a pony tail, put my line out lifting blocks on and then go out onto the pitch and walk through every lineout call at different lines. I enjoy having a bit of structure and knowing I am in control.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about taking up rugby?
Do it – you may hate it, but on the other hand you may love it! You’ll never know until you’ve tried.
Is there anyone in your life who serves as a prodigious inspiration to your progress? Maybe family or friends?
I have a few. Firstly, my Dad. Without him I definitely would not have got myself an England cap.
Although I may not have always appreciated the extra sessions and not enjoyed him being critical of my performances, it has definitely shaped me into a better player and more determined to achieve.
My Mum has offered me the emotional support away from rugby – some days I do find that rugby can take over, and she has always been there for me when I’m having a bad day.
Alex Austerberry, my former talent development officer and current Saracens coach has never given up on me. I remember doing sessions when I was 15/16 and him getting frustrated at me for giving up and not fulfilling my potential. I have him to thank for being harsh on me when I haven’t been performing, but also for giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and take huge steps forward in my playing ability.
Who are your biggest team rivals?
Harlequins are our biggest rivals. We have had some incredible games against harlequins where we have been losing at half time, but managed to fight back in the final few minutes. It’s great playing in games where either team could win and it all comes down to who performs best on the day.
Have you ever had a serious injury that hindered your training? How did you handle the recovery process?
In January, 2020, I came down awkwardly in a lineout and shattered my ankle and my fibula. I had surgery 2 weeks later where 4 pins, a scaffold and a plate were used to secure the bones together. I am 16 weeks post op and have just started walking without a boot and crutches.
It has been a slow process but I have enjoyed gyming and working on my strength – without going to the gym I think I would have started to struggle mentally. It has been a great way to relieve frustration and I have enjoyed focusing on non-rugby related training.
I have also used the time wisely and finished my dissertation and secured myself a job for September!
Do you follow a specific diet or watch what you eat?
Since my injury, I have had to be a lot stricter on my diet, as up until recently, I wasn’t doing much cardio. I start my day with three Weetabix, usually have salad and a protein of some sort for lunch, and then carbs and another source of protein for dinner. I have started drinking more water and snacking on fruit and veg, instead of chocolate and crisps in the day.
Do you have any other passions in life outside of the sporting world?
I really enjoy learning about how businesses run. One day I would like to run my own sports marketing and events company.
I also work with Meningitis Now, a charity which exists to help save lives and rebuild futures after the illness. Having contracted meningitis in September 2019, I have wanted to be able to share my experiences and give back to people who have not been as fortunate as me. @MeningitisNow
Important question, what is your favourite food?
My favourite meal is steak, onion rings and homemade wedges with peppercorn sauce
Most hated food?
I hate butter and raw tomatoes
Favourite quote to live by?
Every cloud has a silver lining
When can we expect to see you play again? Do you have more details for the public?
I am looking to make a return to rugby in September if all goes well with rehab and recovery.
Any particular mentions or shout-outs to sponsors or anyone else?
I would like to say a massive thank you to Compex UK and Occlusion Cuff for their support during my rehab journey, as well as Jordan Guard my agent at NGS. (Instagram @nextgen_sport, @occlusioncuff , @compex_uk
A massive thank you to my family for all their support, but also to Karen and Zoe Harrison, who have been great to live with this last year and have supported my recovery through illness and injury.
And finally, thank you to Gemma Skudder, Saracens Womens Physio. Gemma has been so supportive throughout my rugby career, and I’m excited to spend my summer learning how to run and jump again with her!
Rosie definitely needs to recover and get back on the pitch, I can sense it and I am sure we will be blown away when she does and we cannot wait to see her put the white jersey on again and represent England.
We take inspiration from people like Rosie, no matter their sport or profession and that’s because behind that hard exterior there is a deeper story to what they went through to battle to the top and most of the time they’re aiming for goals and it’s so motivating to see progress and hear them talk about their passion, knowing full well there’s no quitting ahead of that goal!
Thank you Rosie and we wish you a very swift recovery and look forward to coming down and watching you play!