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

Friday, 2 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 a male journalist if I could get some more sandwiches. Of course, there could not have been any other reason that I, a female, was in there other than to be re-stocking sandwiches and topping up drinks!!! I found where they were storing fresh sandwiches and passed the same gentleman a platter; I then proceeded to have a very loud conversation about my England captaincy with a journalist I did know and the look on the man’s face was priceless!! Funny but unfortunately not surprising.

When I became captain this also meant that on a couple of occasions I was allowed in to the sacred very male world of the England training home at Pennyhill Park. My main recollection really was how much a toasted panini was costing me while I was having lunch waiting for Steve Borthwick, the then England men’s captain, before a joint interview. The polar opposite worlds of men’s rugby and women’s rugby symbolised very aptly by a couple of pieces of toast, given a posh name, and a salad garnish.

Whilst writing my book I ask myself that if I had a pre-birth super natural power would I have ensured I was born male? That I may have been famous and owned a bank balance significantly larger than my own? And the answer is no. Not because I don’t want to be male but because I do like to be a woman. I liked being a girl when I was growing up and I like being a woman now. I also feel proud of the impact that I have had on the development of women’s rugby and women’s sport, as an individual and as part of a successful squad in my playing days. Things are improving and although we are a long way off equality we are moving in the right direction. I recently became the first female to MC the official post-match function after a men’s international rugby match at Twickenham, something I am really proud of. Something that is a common theme throughout elite sport is the journey that is made to get to that level; it is always a journey of small steps rather than one giant leap. We are doing that with women’s sport, continuing to make small steps; always looking up; always looking forward. The ideal is that everyone has an opportunity to chose regardless of gender.

My book is continuing to progress and I am now at 60% funded which I am very pleased with but that also means that I still have 40% to achieve. Thank you for your very generous support so far and please do continue to share! 

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Tatiana Vidal Nel
 Tatiana Vidal Nel says:

We can’t wait to read more and learn about Catherine’s life as a rugby player and most importantly would love to raise more awareness on the importance of supporting women in professional sports to a level where they can be equally respected and paid as a professional.

posted 4th January 2019

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