Mud, Maul, Mascara: How I Led My Country, and Lived to Tell the Tale
By Catherine Spencer
The inspirational story of a woman who just wanted to have fun, find love and win the rugby World Cup
Publication date: February 2020Support this project
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But Catherine is also just a girl who wants to be happy. She likes fabulous shoes, nights out, and a pint or two, or three. She’s thrown grown women across pitches around the world, but she’s still hurt by crass comments, cruelty, and discrimination - and women at the top of their game run into a lot of those.
This book is an effort to reconcile alleged opposites, to show the “woman” behind the “international sportswoman”. It is painfully honest about the mental struggles that any elite athlete experiences on retirement - especially one who has just narrowly failed to win a World Cup. In it, Catherine shares her most private feelings about her first cap; her disastrous love life; her little red car; and the stupidest comments she has ever received as a female rugby player. She also reveals the one thought that really plagues her: that sometimes she wishes she had never played for England.
This is the first memoir of its type by a female rugby player, and is launched at a time when the sport has never been more popular among women and girls. It is warm, funny, enraging and inspirational. It’s for anyone who has ever had a dream, or self-doubt, or a yearning for a really good, mud-proof mascara.
Catherine Spencer has a degree in philosophy, an impressive collection of handbags, and 63 England caps under her belt. She started playing mini rugby at her local club in Folkestone, aged 8; won the title of Most Improved Player at 11; and went on to captain her country for three years. She scored 18 tries for England, won six of the eight Six Nations Competitions she took part in, and captained her team to three championship titles, a European cup, two Nations Cup tournament victories and the World Cup final held on home soil in 2010, which thrust women’s rugby into the limelight. All of this while holding down a full time job, because the women’s team, unlike the men’s, did not get paid for their sport.
Catherine has written for The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, The Rugby Paper, Sports International magazine and Scrumqueens, and appeared as a studio pundit and commentator for the BBC and Sky Sports. She was named England Player of the Year in 2006, and received a Rugby Writers club special award in 2011.
After retiring from international rugby in 2011, Catherine founded the speaker agency Inspiring Women, a company designed to share women's stories of determination, belief, focus, trust, leadership, communication, team work and sacrifice with organisations who could benefit from them. Their motto is “Inspire. Believe. Achieve.” She is now a patron of the charity Tag Rugby Trust, a Kent Ambassador, helping to promote the county, an ambassador for Shepway Sports Trust and an associate with Switch the Play. She is currently putting together a new women’s team at Old Elthamians Rugby Club.
- In August 2014 I was working as a studio pundit for Sky Sports as the England Women’s rugby team won the World Cup. I watched the captain, Katy McLean, lift the trophy aloft. I saw former team mates and friends with such joy on their faces. I understood the extremity of their emotions because I too had tears streaming down my face. However, my tears were for the hurt that I had carried for four years, and will probably always feel. A wound that had started to heal was torn open as I stood apart in that TV studio and watched my former team finally lift the coveted World Cup.Read more...
In 2006 I had stood with my team mates at the end of the World Cup final watching New Zealand take the title after a game that we could have won. In 2010 I had to watch my opposing captain from New Zealand take to the podium and lift the cup after we lost by three points. But in 2014 I watched England win a World Cup final, three years after I retired. I’m proud of those women, but I still feel bitterness, jealousy, and immense hurt.
Had England not won without me in 2014, my own 2006 and 2010 World Cup Final wounds would be two scars I would feel proud of. Instead, they make me ashamed. Now that England Women have won the World Cup after my time I feel that my battle scars are worth nothing. Because what do you really win for coming second? How do I get over this? How do I find purpose and a direction in my life that makes my battle scars worth the pain? Do I cover them up? Do I take a new path? Or do I use that pain as fuel to power me on?
- 2nd March 2018 My Sandwich Girl Moment
My sandwich girl moment as I call it came during the 2015 six nations and I was commentating at Twickenham for a women’s international game that was taking place immediately after the men’s fixture. At Twickenham there is a small press room where journalists and commentators can assemble, chat to each other and grab a sandwich or two and a tea or coffee. I was in the press room when I was asked by…20th November 2017 Nearly halfway!
Thank you so much to all of you who have supported my book "Mud, Maul, Mascara". I am nearly at 50% funded and would love to get to 100% before Christmas. I would not need to ask Santa for anything else!!
In rugby news the Red Roses have started extremely strongly against Canada in the first of three tests with their second test tomorrow. They won 79-5; great for England. Canada have sent over…
These people are helping to fund Mud, Maul, Mascara: How I Led My Country, and Lived to Tell the Tale.
Ruth Cordero Peters
The Women’s Rugby Show