We caught up with professional rugby player, Rachael Burford to discuss her experience playing for England in the Six Nations, and why she decided to start coaching girls rugby with The Buford Acadamey.
Q: You have just competed in the Six Nations, tell us what your training looked like and how you prepared yourself for competing.
A: During competition training is tapered so we are fresh and ready to play at the speed and intensity we need to, we need to be fresh going into games so we can maximize our performance. A week leading into a game would look like this
- Monday- Weights and Rugby session
- Tuesday – Rugby Session but walking + A full rugby session
- Wednesday – Speed and Skills
- Thursday – Rest
- Friday – Team Run
- Saturday – Play
- Sunday Rest and recovery
A: I am always so honored to be selected to play for my country but this was even more special, I had picked up an injury during the Wales game which meant I missed the Scotland game. It was a little touch and go if I could get back to fit to be up for selection. I had put in so much hard work to ensure that I was ready to go. So I was absolutely delighted to be selected.
Q: We all had our breath held until the end of the match between England and France. Tell us how you were feeling at that point? Did this further motivate the team to play strong against Ireland?
A: I still felt we were under control at that stage of the game but France are a side who never give up, playing against the top side in big competitions always comes down to fine margins! Unfortunately, this time we didn’t get win but you learn from these times more than you do for winning. It was heartbreaking to lose in the final minute of the game but all credit to France. Our mentality didn’t change going into Ireland, we had one focus which was to perform as a team and win the game!
Q: The Women’s Six Nations is becoming more popular with every year, why do you think there has been a shift in its popularity?
A: I think there are a few reasons, the media coverage now is greater than ever and people are seeing how good women’s rugby is. The other part is how professional players, unions, and clubs are taking the sport which creates interest into the game. The product itself is getting better and better, the skill level and athleticism of the players, makes for brilliant watching and captures the audience.
A: I founded The Burford Academy in 2016, I wanted to create an opportunity for girls to attend Girls only camps to be challenged both on and off the pitch. As a player growing up I was always surrounded by boys and men and even my idols were male, so I wanted to be able to give something back to the sport. I want girls to feel confident and to go on to achieve whatever they want to and I hope that the Academy can be a platform that helps to develop players on and off the pitch.
Q: What kind of services does the academy provide and what age range do you work within?
A: We coach all ages from 8- 18 years old, we heavily focus on the core skills of the game along with some games which completely has fun in mind but is also challenging! We also run a classroom session working on a few different subjects such as Teamwork, leadership skills, confidence, nutrition etc, we hope working on these skills helps them excel not just in rugby but also away from rugby.
Q: How do you balance the academy, your own training with the Harlequins and your personal life?
A: Having a routine helps me balance everything, it also requires discipline to stick to my routine. My training schedule is always set out advance so I understand what sessions I need to complete on which days. I try where possible to get my training done in the mornings which frees me up to run my business and fulfill work commitments….a good diary always helps! The other important balance you have to get is time away from rugby and training and work! Making some time for yourself and friends and family is very important.
Q: What advice would you give girls about wanting a career within the sport?
A: Allow yourself to be a beginner, too maybe people give up or don’t try something because they don’t think they can or that they are good at the sport yet! So allow yourself to be a beginner make mistakes and give it your best! We are start somewhere. You didn’t just start walking as a child or be able to write… you had to learn and the same applies to sport.
Q: Do you have any up and coming events or competitions that you are involved in?
A: Harlequins secured a top four position in the Tyrrells XV premiership which we are just about to go into the Play offs, which consist of a home and away Semi finals… We take on Wasps on the 7th and 14th April with the ambition of getting into the final on the 29th April. Get down to the Stoop on the 14th for a huge game against wasps to hopefully secure our place in the final!