England’s women’s Rugby World Cup star Katy Mclean to give pro game a try

England's Rugby World Cup captain Katy McLean back home in South Shields, with parents Catherine, David and sister Gemma
England's Rugby World Cup captain Katy McLean back home in South Shields, with parents Catherine, David and sister Gemma

SOUTH Tyneside’s Rugby World Cup-winning captain Katy Mclean is preparing to give up her teaching job to become a full-time player.

Katy, from South Shields, has signed a deal to become a professional player.

The 29-year-old teacher, who takes a reception class at Bexhill Academy, in Town End Farm, Sunderland, says choosing between her school post and the chance to become a professional athlete is one of the toughest decisions she has ever faced.

The Sunderland University’s sports studies graduate, who went on to work for Sunderland AFC’s charity, the Foundation of Light, began her teaching career at the school, in Bexhill Road, Sunderland, in 2010 as she took courses to become a teacher, then joining its staff.

The rugby star was awarded an MBE for her services to the sport in the New Year Honour’s list – with the World Cup triumph adding to a growing list of achievements.

She started playing rugby thanks to her father, David, who played for Westoe Rugby Club, in South Shields.

The move comes after the Rugby Football Union (RFU) agreed to have professional women players ahead of England’s 21-9 victory against Canada in the Rugby World Cup final, in Paris, on August 17.

Twelve of the winning squad have since been signed up as professionals, and will train five days a week, excluding tournament time, at Twickenham Stadium and Surrey Sports Park, in Guilford

That means Katy will move from the North East to Surrey.

She will return for the first six weeks of the school year before her training starts full-time, with plans to keep her links to the school going wherever possible.

She said: “I realised I’m probably towards the back end of my playing career at 29, and I thought this might by my only opportunity. I might never be offered it again.

“The school has been amazing, and it’s a job I love. This is probably the biggest thing I’ve had to decide.”

She added: “I’ve had so many messages from parents at the school, that’s the beauty of Twitter.

“I’ve made some great friendships in the last four years there, and it’s one massive family. That’s what’s made the decision so hard for me. I love going to work with the children.”

The RFU says the move is further good news for the future of the women’s sport in Britain, with a squad of 20 having been put together for the IRB Sevens World Series circuit with a Great Britain squad seeking qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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Don’t miss our full exclusive interview with Katy on Thursday.