Team-mate you’d like to be

Rugby World - - STEPHEN JONES -

UGBY HAS long been a ques­tion of bal­ance for Jas­mine Joyce. Whether it’s size and pace, sev­ens and 15s or work and rugby, the 23-year-old has to en­sure the scales don’t tip too far in one di­rec­tion.

Take her time at Cardiff Metropoli­tan Univer­sity, where she stud­ied sport and PE. Juggling the course with her rugby com­mit­ments led to the wing do­ing an un­usual dis­ser­ta­tion. “I stud­ied my­self – how I man­aged uni and rugby,” she says.

“I did a di­ary when I was in Dubai for the sev­ens and had to get my lit re­view in too. The di­ary shows all my emo­tions.

“It is tough, re­ally tough, to bal­ance things. It can be re­ally dif­fi­cult to switch off with train­ing and fit­ness and rugby.”

Af­ter a sum­mer spent tak­ing tourists coas­t­eer­ing (a mix of rock-climb­ing and swim­ming) around Aberei­ddy on Wales’ western coast, she is now work­ing at the Celtic Manor Re­sort in New­port as a fit­ness trainer. The ac­tive el­e­ment of the job helps with her rugby, but the evening and week­end shifts don’t al­ways fit eas­ily around train­ing or matches. There’s that el­e­ment of bal­ance again.

It’s the same in terms of sev­ens and 15s. Joyce was the only non-English player in the Team GB sev­ens squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics and she made her Test de­but for Wales in the fol­low­ing year’s Six Na­tions. Since then she’s chopped and changed be­tween the two for­mats of the game, help­ing Wales to sev­enth-place fin­ishes at both the 15-a-side World Cup last year and the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games.

“To go back and forth is hard but I want to do both. Some peo­ple don’t re­alise they are com­pletely dif­fer­ent games in terms of distri­bu­tion, fit­ness and speed. I lose a lot of weight in sev­ens and then in 15s put it back on.”

The size an­gle is in­ter­est­ing. There is no point bulk­ing up if it slows you down,

RRachel Tay­lor – she’s just per­fect in ev­ery way. She’s such a good cap­tain, a good player and ev­ery­one likes her.

She’s re­spected es­pe­cially when pace is a defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic of your game. Joyce is slight in frame – 5ft 4in and around 9st – but is also in­cred­i­bly fast. Much like one of her he­roes, Shane Wil­liams, she uses the fact that peo­ple told her she didn’t have the physique to play rugby as mo­ti­va­tion.

“I know Shane was told he was too small to play and I’ve grown up with peo­ple say­ing I’m too small and had no chance of mak­ing it in rugby, so there’s that need to prove peo­ple wrong,” says Joyce, who first played aged seven. “I want to be suc­cess­ful in rugby.”

She’s do­ing a more than de­cent job of prov­ing those doubters wrong and will have an­other op­por­tu­nity to do so on the in­ter­na­tional stage in the com­ing weeks. There is no Novem­ber fix­ture at the Prin­ci­pal­ity Sta­dium, where the women took on Italy be­fore the men’s game in last sea­son’s Six Na­tions in an ex­pe­ri­ence Joyce de­scribes as “awe­some”, but Wales do have three au­tumn Tests. They will all be played at Cardiff Arms Park – South Africa on Satur­day 10 Novem­ber (11.30am), Hong

Name Jas­mine Joyce Age 23 (9 Oct 1995) Born Haver­ford­west Nick­name Jaz In­sta­gram han­dle @jas­mine­joycee Favourite filmIt is so good TV show orLast book read I wanted to readand I did ten pages, but I lost con­cen­tra­tionI like to cook… Chicken fa­ji­tas Rugby high­light The Olympics, Com­mon­wealth Games, World Cup… there are so many Rugby low­light I’ve not had any. There’s los­ing, but you’re go­ing to lose. It’s been re­ally pos­i­tive

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