Ladies on England tour

Date: 20 July 2015

Two of Hoppers Ladies were recently selected for the England Women’s University & Colleges Rugby League team that toured Hungary at the end of May.

Emily Stirzaker (Right) and Jennie Pendlebury (Left) from Hoppers both travelled as part of a historic tour that saw the team play against the Hungary national team for the first time as well as playing against Serbia in a 9’s tournament.

We’ve managed to catch up with both Emily and Jennie to ask them some questions about the tour and their thoughts for the coming season.

How did you come to be selected for the tour?

ES: My selection for the tour was quite random to be honest. As keen supporters of Hoppers women’s team both my mam and dad and Jennies’ had been speaking and the topic arose that Jennie was attending trials to represent England Colleges and Uni’s for the second year running (I think). It was suggested that i too should go along with a chance of getting in; therefore I took this opportunity whereby both me and Jennie were successful in the trials and thus invited on the tour to Hungary.

JP: There was open trails held to all students from around the country at Nottingham uni, two more elimination process after as over 90 girls turned up to the first trail then from a training day to choose a final squad to take on tour.

How much of and how many of the games did you play in on tour?

ES: I can’t remember exactly how much time of each game I played but I know that both me and Jennie were fortunate enough to play in all games available, for a more than reasonable length of time to enable our development.

JP: I played 60 minutes of the game against the Hungarians which was the biggest test for me as this was the first international game I had played in, and one of the main parts of the tour I felt, the 9s tournament was just to get a bit more experience playing together as a team and against an international side as we also played Serbia in that tournament.

What was your highlight of the tour?

ES: The highlight of the tour for me has to be the part where we were presented with our England Jersey’s to start in the game against Hungary by our coach and rugby international Lindsay Anfield.

JP: The highlight of the tour for me was to get player’s player at the end of it of the squad. To make an impact to the players you play along side is always so important to me and to get it in a England Jersey was amazing.

As rugby union players how have you ended up representing your country at RL?

ES: Personally, until this tour, I hadn’t played rugby League since the age of ten as there are no women’s teams near where I live. Therefore representing my country at rugby league really comes down to word of mouth; It is wasn’t for mine and Jennie’s mam and dad having that conversation I probably wouldn’t have ever known about this amazing opportunity and thus I can’t thank her mam and dad enough for suggesting that I attend the trials.

JP: I have played rugby league from a very young age and have only Recently in the last 3 years joined rugby union since going to university at Uclan and joining Hoppers

What are your future plans in rugby?

ES: To be honest I am Just going to go with the flow. I am looking forward to my second season at Hoppers with the rest of the team and hopefully will get to play for Lancashire again for what will be my third year. In terms of rugby league I am going to look into joining a community club as this will enable me to potentially represent my country again next year. Unfortunately however, me and Jennie won’t be able to play for England students as we are no longer at university. Instead we will have to attempt to make it into the England Lionesses side if we wish to continue playing at this level.

JP: Since the tour we have played a series of games against other representative team from around England including the armed forces, from this they aim to chose a development squad for the women’s rugby league World Cup in 2017 so that is definitely one goal I am working towards, but mainly it is to just keep playing and enjoy both codes of the game.

What are you most looking forward to about the coming season?

ES: I am most looking forward to being re-united with the rest of the team and putting on a Hoppers Jersey for my second season. As much as I have enjoyed playing rugby league I have missed union and can’t wait to get back to training with Keith to develop further as a player alongside my friends.

Playing For my country has to be my greatest achievement to date and I can only hope that more opportunities like this occur in the future.

Bring it on! lol!

JP: Really looking forward to getting a hoppers kit back on this coming season always just a great atmosphere and team to play in and hopefully we will be able to get some more consistent results this time round.

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