Apr 10, 2018
Meet The Sarries Young Guns With School & Silverware on Their Minds
Eighteen year olds Helena Rowland and Cara Wardle have been creating quite a stir in their first season in the Tyrrells Premier 15. Having both picked up a rugby ball at the age of six they are no strangers to the game however this has been their first season of senior rugby and they have both hit the ground running as they’ve cemented their spots in Rob Cain’s side.
"My first season at Sarries has gone far better than I ever thought it would” said Wardle.
“Joining at the beginning of the season at only 17 I thought I’d very much play my first season with the A team and begin development there. However, due to the amount of input from so many experienced players I feel I have developed more than I had expected, moving into the first 15 and also being called into England U20s.”
Rowland, who is currently leading the overall point scoring table with over 100 points to her name, echoed her team mate sentiments- “I have really enjoyed my first season playing for Saracens. All the players made me feel very welcome right from the start and have helped me to gain confidence within a new team. The league has been tough which has pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to develop as a player. Being in the starting 15 has completely surpassed any expectations I had of my first year playing women's rugby, particularly in a squad as competitive as Saracens.”
The blend of youth and experience has been a trademark of Cain’s side this season, with Rowland and Wardle coming in at seventeen years old and at the opposite end of the spectrum, Sarries stalwart Sonia Green having been at the club for the same number of years! Both the centres credit their senior team mates for supporting with the transition into the top flight of the women’s game. “It's great being able to learn from all the experienced players around me, they are all constantly helping me to improve” said Rowland.
“They challenge me at training which is really helping me to develop as I am always being pushed. Everyone's desire to progress has allowed us to perform well over the season. If we are disappointed in our performance then collectively we will question what went wrong and try to correct it in training so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. This is what has enabled us to play like we did in the first semi final as everyone stepped up and enjoyed playing together.”
Rob Cain has provided a number of young players with an opportunity to experience the Premier 15s with a squad that boasts nine England U20s players many of whom have come through the ranks together which Rowland believes has helped the squad’s dynamic. “Playing with so many other Saracens players through the age group pathway has been really beneficial as it has created long standing friendships, and it has allowed us to understand each other and how we play.”
Rowland and Wardle have the added challenge of balancing being in their final year of school with A Levels looming plus meeting the demands of a gruelling training schedule with Sarries but it doesn’t seem to phase the pair. “It hasn’t always been easy especially now with the play offs and my exams starting next month, sometimes it has been stressful with also the unexpected addition of England U20s camps, however this is something I’ve chosen and will always make it work” said Wardle.
“A Levels certainly aren’t easy to do alongside a sport at a high level but the balancing of the two have been worth it and my parents have certainly played their part in helping me get to where I want by taking me to places and always showing their support. It’s been a busy season and I’ve had to make sacrifices along the way, missing a lot of events with my school friends, but it has been worth it looking back on where I started and where I am now.”
“On the way to the semi final against Gloucester-Hartpury both Cara and I were busy completing maths papers to ensure that we still got revision done, even on a match day!” said Rowland. “Balancing both Premier 15s rugby and A Levels is difficult and I have to be extremely organised, however I'm finding both are a beneficial release from each other.”
This will be the duos first experience of knock out rugby and they are both relishing the challenge to see how far they can go. “The excitement around everyone has definitely risen as we’ve moved into the knock out period” said Wardle.
“The prospect of being able to win the first Tyrrells Premier 15s is really exciting and I think that showed in our performance against Gloucester-Hartpury. It was one of our most clinical performances yet and the team really clicked leading to a score line which has put us in a great position going into the home leg.”
“All that is left now is to produce another good performance against Gloucester-Hartpury in the home semi and then hopefully go on and perform just as well in the final” said Rowland.
“Our performances throughout the season have led up to this opportunity and we are all ready to take it."
Tickets for the home semi final at Allianz Park on Saturday 14th April, 18h00 KO, can be purchased via www.saracens.com
Entry to the game is free for season ticket holders, please bring your season ticket card with you to gain entry.