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Meet: Jeanine Stephenson
Jeanine Stephenson has come on leaps and bounds since her time with the Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy and now plays her rugby with 2018 BUCS champions Exeter University Women's Rugby Club.
We sat down with Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy alumni Jeanine Stephenson, upon the announcement of the college’s inaugural Women’s Rugby Academy trials on 5th April 2019.
Since 2006, in partnership with Saracens Rugby Club, Oaklands College have provided fantastic opportunity for ambitious young rugby players to continue their education in an excellent institution as well as work intensively on developing their skills in sport.
Joining Wolves Academy at Oaklands College gives students aged 16 to 19 a way to grow with a view to progressing to the professional game, club rugby in the national or local leagues, or university and beyond.
This is our first Rugby Open Day specifically for Women’s Rugby, with the intention to launch the Women’s Rugby Academy in September 2019, anyone inspired by the following interview with Jeanine can sign up for the Open Day here.
Q: When did you first start playing rugby and what was the inspirational driving force that motivated you to take up the resort?
“I started playing rugby when I joined high school. It was something a lot of the girls I got to know did and one of my PE teachers suggested I gave it a go. I’ve watched rugby my whole life so I think that’s what drove me to try it out. I was a swimmer at the time so found it weird not being in the pool as much but I was excited to try something new.”
Q: As a former student of the Oaklands Wolves Rugby Academy, what was your experience at the college, what did you learn, what were your biggest achievements?
My experience at Oaklands was amazing and such a learning curve for me. I suffered from a really bad concussion and ankle injury but I had so much support from all of the coaching staff. Not only did my rugby improve while at Oaklands but the additional workshops for coping under pressure allowed me to bring aspects of it not only onto the pitch but also outside of my rugby.
Q: What are you studying now, do you still play rugby?
I’m currently studying Criminology at the University of Exeter. I play not only for the University but also Bristol Bears. I think my biggest and favourite rugby achievement since leaving Oaklands was winning the BUCS final in April 2018 against Hartpury. It was such a challenging game but an amazing feeling winning at Twickenham Stadium beside such a great rugby family.
Q: How important is it that society continues to embrace and champion the rise of female sport?
It’s so important! I think the RFU have done a great job with the full-time contracts they have given out this season. It’s really pushed women’s rugby and having not only International games but also Tyrells Premiership games shown live on TV is such a great step in women’s rugby. Helping coach at Exeter College who are linked with the University and seeing how many girls come and watch our games for Bristol is really great and it’s awesome to see!
Q: What would your advice be to students who are interested in signing up for the upcoming Female Rugby trials in April?
If you’re in doubt, still sign up for trials! Don’t be nervous and treat the trial as a rugby session. There’s no need to worry about juggling rugby and education, training and class never overlap and the support you will receive is amazing. The academy offer so much ranging from workshops, strength and conditional training and specific sessions for individual development. There’s a great link between the college and Saracens Women which works really well as a hub for those within the academy to train with talented players in the club. It was this collaboration which helped me personally when I was looking to play for a Premiership club and in February 2016 I was able to make my debut for Saracens Women.
Have a look through our Rugby Academy
If you’re in doubt, still sign up for trials! Don’t be nervous and treat the trial as a rugby session. There’s no need to worry about juggling rugby and education, training and class never overlap and the support you will receive is amazing