Loughborough College student Ellen Dewson has made her international rugby debut – becoming the first international player to be produced by the College’s brand new girls RFU programme.
The 18 year old, who is amongst the first players to have been selected to join the College-based programme in its launch year, received her call up for Scotland U20’s to play against Belgium’s Senior Side.
“This has been like a dream come true. I have been playing rugby since I was five and now I have an International cap – and the support I have had through the programme at Loughborough College has played a major part in that.”
Ellen, who currently lives in Loughborough, started playing touch rugby with the mini section of the Bedford Blues but at 12 RFU rules meant she had to stop playing with the boys. “I wanted to join a girls’ club – but there weren’t any, so my dad started one.”
Over the next four years Ellen joined the Old Northamptonians and played for the Midlands U15’s before moving to Wellinborough Rugby Club. “I was invited for trials for the RFU programme at Loughborough College and loved it. I decided that even if I wasn’t selected I wanted to study here anyway – so I was thrilled to hear I had got in and for rugby.
“I am training and playing alongside studying for my BTEC in Sport and AASE – which includes one on ones with psychologists and nutrititionists as well as lessons on things like communication and finance. It means I am developing really useful skills which are helping me develop on and off the pitch and for my future career.
“The College suggested I could think about Scotland, told me more about what I would need to do and supported me in making contact – and suddenly I was being invited to a training camp with them at Stirling University.
“I tried not to be too excited and just enjoy it for itself but then I was asked back for a second camp – and at the end of that I was told I had been selected for the squad to play Belgium only a week later.
“It was like a whirlwind then – getting to Murrayfield, flying out and then suddenly I was on the pitch facing the Senior Belgium side.
“Some of the players were ten years older than me and they were bigger, stronger and so fast. It was tough and we ended up being defeated but we fought hard all the way.
“Of course we were gutted with the result but it was the U20’s first ever overseas game and we were proud of our performance, playing at that level. Everyone was so encouraging and so supportive of each other. For me it was the best match I have ever played and worth every minute. “
Ellen is now working hard on her skills and fitness and is waiting to see if she will be invited back to further camps with Scotland in the autumn.
“I was pinching myself all the way up to game day with Belgium, it felt so unreal until then. I had been working so hard towards that for so long. It was an amazing experience and now I want more. It has made me even more determined.
“I cannot thank the College enough for the opportunities they have given me and for being so supportive. I feel proud of what I have achieved so far and I know that as I keep pushing forward they will be right there with me.”
Chris Parr, RFU Women’s AASE Coordinator at Loughborough College, said: “Ellen is passionate about her sport, she has great enthusiasm and is eager to succeed. We are incredibly proud of her international debut and will be doing all we can to help her build on that exposure and to embrace the next stage of her playing career.
“The aim of the programme is to meet all the girls’ education and sporting needs, to enable them to attain their goals, to achieve recognition and be given as many opportunities as possible.
“It is outstanding that within our first year of the RFU programme at Loughborough College we not only have one full cap but we also have three players confirmed for U20 England trials. We also have a player who is moving up from county to divisional rugby.
“We are set to recruit even more players next year onto the programme and we are really looking forward to building on this year’s successes.”
Pictured: Loughborough College rugby player Ellen Dewson with the shirt she wore for her international debut
Elizabeth Udall, Communications Consultant:
Tel: 07515 852690