`

Why England captain Tamara Taylor’s heart is in Jarrow

LEADER ... Tamara Taylor in action for England and below, with Jarrovians chairman Brian Berry.
LEADER ... Tamara Taylor in action for England and below, with Jarrovians chairman Brian Berry.

IMAGINE playing for your country AND being a world champion.

Pretty special isn’t it?

Throw in the fact you have just been made England captain and you are talking about sporting royalty.

Meet Tamara Taylor, who has just taken over from South Shields legend Katy McLean.

The forward will lead the England rugby team this weekend in the Women’s 6 Nations.

Regal she might be, but the 33-year-old is ‘one of us’, winning the World Cup one weekend with England and then the next coaching Jarrovians.

It’s not quite like Wayne Rooney managing the Dog & Duck on a Sunday but it’s up there as one of sport’s more unlikely matches.

But Tamara would not have it any other way and when she is in Swansea this weekend her head and heart will also be in Prudhoe, where Jarrovians play this Saturday in Durham Northumberland Three.

“We need to score a try this week,” said Tamara, an adopted local having spent niine of the last 10 years in the North East.

“We’d been through a phase of playing some nice rugby in places, but not sustaining it over the 80 minutes.

“There had been good patches to build on but we’ve fallen by the wayside over the last couple of weeks.

“We need to score a try and hopefully that will make the difference and we can get some momentum going from there.”

That the new England skipper has the time to think about 10th v 12th in Division Three shows the passion for the Lukes Lane outfit.

The Rugby Development Officer for South Durham accepted the job last season and was reluctant to give it up despite her commitments as a player with Darlington Mowden Park and England.

“When I moved back to the area I was in the middle of doing my level three qualification so I needed a team,” she said.

“My boss said ‘there’s a local side, really nice guys, who are struggling in the league and they could really do with the benefit of having a coach’.

“I went a long to meet (chairman) Brian Berry and he went over the highs and lows and said ‘do you really want to take on the job?’.

“Of course I did and by the end of last season I felt we had started getting little bits and pieces right.

“After that, I didn’t want to just walk away so I put my hat in the ring to have another season.

“It’s been good for me, it’s a different challenge.

“I enjoy it. We only had eight at training on Tuesday night and yes, I’d love to have 25 players there, but the boys who turn up make my job worthwhile because they try really hard.”

For all Taylor’s devotion to Jarrovians, Sunday is a tumultuous day and will mark one of the highlights of her life.

She has replaced McLean as England captain, not that Katy has got the sack. Far from it, she’s away in Brazil with England in a World Sevens event.

McLean will be back, but in the meantime one of England’s leading and most experienced forwards will take charge against Wales in Swansea and she intends to do it her way.

“I think me and Katy are very different people,” she told the Gazette.

“I’ve been asked ‘how are you going to captain England?’.

“I plan to to be no different to how I am anyway as a player and leader.

“It’s something I’ve always done so I’m not going to try to be Katy McLean.

“It’s very cliched but I am just going to be myself, it’s the only way I know and that’s how I’ll do it.

“I got a phone call from (coach) Gary Streete a couple of weeks ago.

“Katy was contracted to the sevens – she’s in Rio at the moment – and Gary said they would like me to take the reins for the start of the 6 Nations and hopefully do a good job.

“It was a totally easy decision for me to say yes and an honour.

“I’ve skippered my club and university teams so getting the captain’s armband is not a new experience.

“But to captain your country is just amazing and I’m really honoured they asked me.”