SOUTH Tyneside’s England rugby captain Katy McLean was honoured at Buckingham Palace yesterday.
The 28-year-old from South Shields, who has 69 caps for the female rugby team, was presented with an MBE for services to the sport by Princess Anne.
The fly-half said she hoped her honour would boost the number of women participating in the sport.
She said: “The team sports maybe don’t get as much recognition as athletics.
“It’s really growing though, and about making sure that young girls know that rugby, football and cricket are really out there to participate in.”
She added: “If my award today gets somebody else involved in the sport, then that is amazing for me.”
Katy, who works as a teacher in Sunderland, grew up in a rugby family and started playing at the age of five. She said the Princess Royal asked how the England team combine their sporting careers with their day jobs.
She said: “I’m a primary school teacher and, obviously, a lot of our girls work and she was asking how we manage that.
“She wished us good luck in the World Cup as well.”
Katy made her England debut in 2007, has gone on to win 69 caps and now captains the side.
She also skippers her club, Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.
Katy almost didn’t get the honour because the letter asking whether she wished to accept it or not was sent to her club’s former ground.
Fortunately, it got redirected.
Katy said 2014 is set to be “a massive year” for her in terms of her sport, with the Women’s Rugby World Cup taking place in August in France.
“That is our big focus,” she said. “Previous results haven’t gone our way.”