Loughborough College rugby player Leah Barlett has achieved her first cap for England Women.
The 18 year old, who earned a place with the national side last summer, not only started for the U20 squad but also scored in a 38-15 defeat against Army Women in Aldershot.
Leah is in her second year of the RFU programme at Loughborough College, studying BTEC Sports Science, and has been shortlisted in the Personal Achievement category for the Pride of Charnwood Awards.
“It was great to be selected for England last year. I first went to the U20s trial when I was only 16 and wasn’t successful. But after being on the programme at Loughborough College for almost a year I felt I had really benefited from my lessons and additional training and went in feeling much more confident.
“I was hoping to make the team for three test matches against Canada last summer but at my first camp I got a severe whiplash injury which meant I was not eligible. That was frustrating and upsetting but after I had recovered I worked hard and got myself back to peak fitness.
“To be selected for the squad against the Army was amazing in itself but then to start, get 60 minutes and score a try…
“The pressure in the scrums was so powerful, like nothing I had experienced before, but we had a strong front row and I just got on with it. It was a great experience.”
While Leah waits to hear if she has been selected to play for England in the first of two matches against France Women U20s this weekend at Esher RFC, she is celebrating receiving offers from all five universities she has applied to.
“I am so grateful to the College and the programme. Their support has been amazing. I am getting so many opportunities on and off the pitch.
“To hear about the Pride of Charnwood Award was a surprise - but to have that acknowledgement is a real honour.”
Leah was nominated by Chris Parr, Women’s RFU AASE coordinator at Loughborough College: “It’s really pleasing to see Leah achieve her goal of being capped for England at U20’s level. She’s worked extremely hard to get selected firstly into the squad, then to start against the Army.
“This is a credit to Leah’s attitude and dedication. In the last couple of seasons she has switched positions to hooker and now for her to get a cap shows that with the right work ethic and level of determination, players will be rewarded. I also think it is important to acknowledge that Leah has managed her achievements in rugby alongside her academics.
“I have known Leah since her early teenage years and it’s been great to see her develop within the Midlands pathway and then with us for two years at Loughborough College.
“It’s great to see the young people of Charnwood recognised and rewarded for their personal achievements, in sport, academics or other walks of life – and to be on the final shortlist is a testament to the work Leah has put in over the years.
“I’m sure her family and friends are extremely proud of Leah and we hope this is the start of a great period for her, achieving her U20’s cap and then moving on to university as well.
“It is really satisfying to see players looking to play rugby at the highest level can achieve their academic and sporting goals whilst they are here with us at Loughborough College.”
Pictured: Loughborough College rugby player Leah Bartlett at her U20 England debut against Army Women
Elizabeth Udall, Communications Consultant:
Tel: 07515 852690