Rugby girl to play for Eng­land

Middleton Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - HE­LEN JOHN­SON

ALAW stu­dent is set to achieve sport­ing glory af­ter be­ing se­lected to rep­re­sent Eng­land in the Wheel­chair Rugby League World Cup.

Jodie Boyd-Ward, 24, has been play­ing wheel­chair rugby league since 2009, start­ing out with Wolver­hamp­ton Rhi­nos.

Af­ter de­vel­op­ing mo­bil­ity prob­lems from the age of 11, Jodie was di­ag­nosed with se­vere arthri­tis in her spine and nerve dam­age on the left hand side of her body, re­sult­ing in her need to use a wheel­chair to play sport.

Af­ter mov­ing to Manch­ester to at­tend univer­sity, Jodie’s wheel­chair rugby career led her to play for Leeds Rhi­nos, who took on Med­way Dragons in a WhRL Pre­mier League match at the end of April.

In ad­di­tion to her sport­ing career, Jodie is cur­rently study­ing law at Manch­ester Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity.

She also works in the Click and Col­lect team at Asda Mid­dle­ton and counts her col­leagues among some of her big­gest sup­port­ers.

Jodie, 24, said: “I was brought up on rugby league from a young age as my fam­ily are fans of the sport - it was the nat­u­ral sport for me to have a go at af­ter I was un­able to con­tinue with net­ball and dance due to my con­di­tion.

“Ev­ery­one at Asda has been bril­liant and re­ally sup­port­ive of me and my rugby career – par­tic­u­larly my sec­tion leader Claire and Paul, our store man­ager, who has very kindly let me have the time off to play.

“I try not to let my con­di­tions af­fect me mas­sively; I shouldn’t be able to do as much as I can, but I’m stub­born and de­ter­mined to prove peo­ple wrong.”

Asda Mid­dle­ton gen­eral store man­ager, Paul Gar­nett, said; “To play at the sort of level Jodie does is a real achieve­ment and ev­ery­one here is re­ally proud of her.

“I’m a rugby fan and sup­port Hal­i­fax so we of­ten have a chat about the sport. So many peo­ple here take an in­ter­est in Jodie and her matches – it’s great.”

The third Wheel­chair Rugby League World Cup takes place this July.

The emerg­ing sport was first de­vel­oped in 2004.

The team will be look­ing to re­gain the ti­tle, af­ter they won the in­au­gu­ral World Cup af­ter beat­ing Aus­tralia 44-12 in 2008.

They were also nar­rowly beaten to the ti­tle 44-40 by France in 2013.

Jodie Boyd-Ward in ac­tion

Jodie Boyd-Ward

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