Age 35 (8 Oct 1981) Born Exeter Club Darlington Mowden Park Country England Position Lock
TAMARA TAYLOR is one of only three players to win 100 caps for England Women. ahead of her fourth World Cup, she talks us through her rugby journey…
I grew up in Zambia and Botswana.
I was born in England but my parents then moved over there for work. I was only three when we left Zambia so most of my memories are of Botswana.
A piece of my heart will always be in Africa.
I’m not african but growing up somewhere you feel an attachment to it. It was an amazing outdoor lifestyle. you’d eat outside, play outside – great for kids.
I played everything when I was younger.
athletics and swimming were my two main sports, but any team sport that came along I’d get involved. Mum was a PE teacher so there was lots of after-school sport.
I started playing rugby by luck more than anything.
there was no rugby at my secondary school but my brother, Jason, was playing at Henley and heard that they were starting a women’s team, so I joined them. rocky Clark joined too – she was 16 and I was 15. My first time on a rugby pitch was with rocky!
I’d always wanted to play rugby because my brother played.
We went to the same school, Oratory, and they didn’t have a lot of girls’ sport. I tried my best to run around with the boys and get involved where I was allowed. I was the annoying little sister who wanted to do whatever he was doing.
Rugby was a game that made sense to me.
If you want the ball, you go and get it. If someone’s running, you stop them to try to get the ball. It made more sense than netball, where you have to work out which third you’re standing in.
I started off as a back, either on the wing or at centre.
then two years in one of the coaches said, “I think you should move into the forwards.” I had no idea what I was doing – I’d just follow the ball! I really enjoyed being in the forwards; it was constant action. all that time wasted in the backs!
I got invited to England Students trials when I was 17 or 18.
I was in my last year at school and had just moved to the forwards. I still didn’t know what I was doing but I got selected. I played one game as
I had a lot going on with a Levels.
Then I went travelling and didn’t play for a year.
But when I came back I went to Newcastle university and started playing there. I got involved with the England academy, the a team and then the senior team.
I also played rugby league for Great Britain Students.
the uni had a really strong men’s league side, so a few girls started doing it and we did quite well in a few competitions. a few of us got selected for gB students and went on tour to russia. It was a really good experience. I think both codes can learn from each other.
I was pretty terrified when winning my first cap in 2005.
I was a non-playing reserve for the first test in New Zealand. I hadn’t had any experience of the Black Ferns and watching I just thought, ‘My god, this is tough’. I played in the second test, coming on after about 60-65 minutes, and just got my head down. We performed much better in that game – it was a massive learning curve.
Relief – that’s what I felt when winning the 2014 World Cup final.
Having lost the previous two finals, at the final whistle I was thinking, ‘thank goodness’. It was a good experience on and off the field, and what I share with that group of girls
Go-forward En route to a grand slam win v Ireland, 2017