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Women’s Super League: St Helens’ Rachael Woosey follows in the footsteps of her icons


St Helens winger Rachael Woosey grew up idolising the likes of Jamie Lyon and Paul Wellens, and now has the opportunity to star for her hometown club in the Women’s Super League after switching from rugby union

Last Updated: 23/04/21 8:41pm

St Helens’ Rachael Woosey is delighted to be playing for the club she supported as a child

As a child, Rachael Woosey was a regular on the Knowsley Road terraces watching St Helens. Little did she know, though, that one day she too would be pulling on the famous Red Vee as well.

Introduced to rugby league through her mum taking her and her brother to watch her hometown club in Super League, the winger grew up idolising the likes of Jamie Lyon and Paul Wellens in their pomp for Saints.

Last Sunday saw the 23-year-old live the dream of making her St Helens debut in their 2021 Women’s Super League season opener against Bradford Bulls too, yet it was something which Woosey never imagined she would ever get to experience.

“I always went to Knowsley Road every home game and had season tickets from when we were really young,” Woosey told Sky Sports.

“My mum spent a lot of time going up there before me and my brother being around, and I remember being so excited being a league fan because my mum used to get my name up for my birthday.

“I’d get so excited seeing on the board ‘Happy birthday Rachael’ or being a mascot for a game, so I used to love going to watch the games up at Knowsley Road.

“It’s something I’ve always been in touch with, but I never thought of crossing over and playing it.”

Rachael Woosey in action for the England North sevens team at the 2013 School Games

Rachael Woosey in action for the England North sevens team at the 2013 School Games

The influence of Woosey’s father helped get her started on the playing side too, although it was in rugby union rather than league where he coached in the youth section of the town’s West Park club.

The timely formation of a girl’s section at Liverpool St Helens then gave Woosey the opportunity of continuing in the 15-person code after the age of 13 when she was no longer able to play alongside the boys and had considered whether she had a future in rugby.

From there, she progressed rapidly, helping the team go on to win at both regional and national level, followed by earning an opportunity to play for Darlington Mowden Park in the Women’s Premiership while studying at Bishop Burton College near Hull.

Having represented England at age-group level, her free-scoring displays out wide for Darlington earned Woosey a part-time contract for the senior team and she would go on to represent the Red Roses in the Sevens World Series, making a memorable debut in Australia.

When you’re just full of excitement, you don’t know what to say. I was going out making my England debut on the world stage and Australia was amazing to get my first cap at.

Rachael Woosey

“It was an unreal feeling because I’d represented England U20s, but you don’t get to venture outside of the country because it had only been every three years they’d gone on tour to Canada and America,” Woosey said.

“I’d worked so hard for the first three months in November and December, then the tournaments started to come and I remember going in for a meeting where I was told I was going to be making my World Series debut in Sydney.

“When you’re just full of excitement, you don’t know what to say. I was going out making my England debut on the world stage and Australia was amazing to get my first cap at.

“The stadiums were full for the women’s games and they absolutely love it out there. It was so hot, but so amazing and just a great experience.”

St Helens made a flying start to the 2021 Women's Super League season

St Helens made a flying start to the 2021 Women’s Super League season

A return to St Helens to work as a sports coach in schools in the town as well as a desire to play for one of the Premier 15s’ top-four teams led to Woosey signing for Loughborough Lightning, but in 2019 she was contacted by England rugby league head coach Craig Richards, who also works for St Helens, over the possibility of crossing codes.

The cancellation of the 2020 Women’s Super League season due to the Covid-19 panic delayed that switch, but when the offer came again ahead of this year’s campaign there was no hesitation from Woosey to agree to the switch.

Woosey arrived at Saints having had several months of rugby union under her belt for Loughborough in the first part of the 2020/21 Premier 15s season and made a try-scoring start to life with them in last Sunday’s 86-0 win over Bradford.

The primary school teacher admits she is still learning some of the nuances of playing league, but she is pleased with how the transition is going so far and is delighted to see opportunities for girls which were not there when she was first playing rugby.

It’s nice people have that platform to see the women’s game and watch it grow.

Rachael Woosey

“Having the prospect of being able to play locally for something I’ve always supported and something people truly respect around here it definitely was a great option for me and something you can build and grow in yourself,” Woosey said.

“It’s really nice children have got those role models to see. Growing up, you would have never had those. You might be able to pull off five you know, but you never saw anybody locally walking into schools saying: ‘I play women’s rugby league or rugby union’.

“I think it’s nice people have that platform to see the women’s game and watch it grow.”





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