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'I got back into rugby after bacterial meningitis and shattering my ankle'

By Rosie Galligan
BARNET, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Rosie Galligan of England is seen following the Women's International match between England Red Roses and Canada at StoneX Stadium on September 30, 2023 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Morgan Harlow - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Last week I attended World Rugby’s Rugby World Cup 2025 launch event which was also celebrating 200 years of rugby. It was a really special evening, starting off with a bit of networking, and meeting like-minded people who were all in the same boat of wanting 2025 to be the best World Cup ever.

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Ahead of the event, I also recorded the first episode of a new World Rugby podcast called ‘Stronger Than You Think’. Being asked to be the first guest was a privilege. You can watch the full episode here.

Sometimes I forget my own journey and my own story and how I got to where I am today. To be able to be given a platform to share my story and show people that you can still achieve your dreams after suffering setbacks and adversity is an honour.

My story includes how I got back into rugby after contracting bacterial meningitis and shattering my ankle, feel free to give it a listen or watch. There are more episodes to come with different female sporting guests in the new year.

What struck me at the event was there were so many people there who had an interest in the women’s game and helping it to move forward. It was a poignant moment as that’s probably the first time that a lot of people have been in a room together with RWC 2025 only 20 months away!

There were panel discussions on stage with the second panel made up of Springbok Women’s captain Babalwa Latsha, England fullback Ellie Kildunne, and Red Roses coach Sarah Hunter. Sarah had been up in Sunderland that same morning helping with the announcement that the Stadium of Light will host the opening World Cup fixture and Twickenham Stadium will host the final.

For her, it is really special that the World Cup is going to be opening in Sunderland and that the Red Roses are going to be playing there.

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In terms of the tournament, it’s really exciting that we’re taking rugby all across the country. No Women’s Rugby World Cup has done that before. Being able to take it up to the North and all the way down to the South West is a really exciting prospect.

There are always going to be people who don’t enjoy that because they want to follow the rugby and would prefer it to be local to them, but for us, I think it’s the way that the women’s game has to go.

We want to make sure that rugby is sustainable in the North and being able to showcase what we do and hopefully be role models up there and bring something to the area – that for us will be really important. Hopefully, it helps with sport up there for girls, not just for rugby, but for getting young girls in the North wanting to be active as well.

Moving on to The PWR. A new name and new look for the Women’s Premiership and WOW have we seen a change in exposure and branding across the rugby world.

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Firstly, the change in name to PWR (Premiership Women’s Rugby) makes you feel like you’re playing the equivalent to the men’s Premiership. The new colour scheme is bright and vibrant and looks great on billboards in stadiums, on screens and across social media.

Its colours correlate to us as individuals – bright and bold both on and off the pitch. This was shown really well through the first photoshoot for the ‘new look’ league, where players were given the opportunity to express themselves and choose their outfits.

Another massive win for the league is our new broadcasting deal on TNT Sports and RugbyPass TV. Being able to watch a game a week on TV means there is more exposure and opportunities to showcase the women’s game to new and existing consumers.

Saracens have had a really exciting opening to the season. We started against a new look Loughborough side who are now being led by head coach Nathan Smith. They put up a real fight in the first half, falling away slightly in the second.

Our second game saw us take on Ealing. Again, they caused us some real issues but our pack dominance created lots of scoring opportunities with some individual class from the likes of Jess Breach and Paige Farries. Giselle Mather is a well respected coach in the women’s game and a competitive individual. The club recently got their first win and I’m sure she will be wanting to back up that result throughout the season.

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Our next game took us back to my ‘old stomping ground’, the Twickenham Stoop, where we played against Harlequins. The London derby is known as a ‘game to watch’ as it holds such a big rivalry with many players having personal vendettas.

It was slightly different this year however as we won 31 – 0. Our forward pack used the driving maul to our advantage and created a strong platform to play off. We started to piece together some really good passages of play putting us in a good position leading up to our ‘Christmas Cracker’ game against Bristol on 23rd December, which columnist Claire Thomas previews here.

The Bristol game is definitely a new found rivalry for many players. As Bristol have grown in strength and added some former Saracens players to their books (such as Holly Aitchison and Hannah Botterman), the tension has been brewing and I’m sure that Saturday is going to be a cracker!

Bristol are a team that like to play out of their own half. We are a team that like to counter attack and put the pressure on the opposition, so it’ll be down to who has the best execution and management on the day as to who comes out on top.

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Clive 184 days ago

PWR launch was all very fluffy and colourful but the deal has taken coverage behind a paywall and unfortunately the streamers can’t be bothered with women’s club rugby, so from watching every game, most live, I am restricted to as, if and maybe. My 12 year old granddaughter was an avid viewer so now has gone back to tik tok. She may be lost, which is a shame cos she is already a 2 time British age group weightlifting champion. They have grabbed the cash rather than trying to grow the game.

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