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'If I continued the way I was, there is no way I'd be playing for Wasps'

By Lucy Lomax
Wasps' Ellie Boatman during the Women's Allianz Premier 15's match between Harlequins Women and Wasps Ladies at Twickenham Stoop on December 27, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

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One of the in-form wingers of the Premier 15s this season, Ellie Boatman is scoring tries for fun for Wasps and is creeping her way closer to the top of the try scoring charts, currently residing in third.

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However, it’s not always been plain sailing for the 24-year-old who entered onto the England Sevens scene late last year and has big plans to make a name for herself in both formats of the game.

Boatman recently spoke out on her social media around the journey she has been on to get her mind and body in the right place to be at the peak of her game. Five years ago, she struggled with her body image and admits her eating habits didn’t give her the desired physique, strength, or mentality for playing her best rugby.

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“In that period of my life I was very focused on my body image and being as skinny as possible,” said the Wasps winger. “I posted a video about my journey with my body struggles to be honest about it. It would have helped me to see a video like that or to have seen someone say it’s not just about being skinny and I hope younger girls can get something from that. Not everything you see on Instagram is real.

“Particularly in sport, you have to fuel yourself and being strong and healthy. That is so much more important than just how you look and for me I am not able to perform until I’ve properly fuelled myself and built more muscle and am stronger. That’s when I’m the best version of myself and happy.

“If I was still eating the way I was there is no way I’d be playing for Wasps or England, so it’s been a huge growth for me. That’s why I decided to be open about it and post online about it. I hope someone can take something from it who may be struggling as well.

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“I think rugby is so special as there are so many positions, all shapes and sizes and we all have a particular purpose on the pitch and that’s why it’s special. I know if I’m not fuelling myself properly, I’m not going to be able to make those hand offs or sprint the length of the pitch to score a try.”

The openness Boatman shows demonstrates the acceptance of the journey she’s been on and it’s plain to see the positive result, with the current season being a dream one for Boatman. Not only did she get a call up to the England Sevens and a full-time contract, but also feels settled and supported at Wasps, with prolific try scoring to show for it.

“At the start of the season in September I sat down with Giselle (Mather, Wasps Director of Rugby) and she asked what was my ultimate goal this season and I said I’d love to get invited into England Sevens. Then in November I went into sevens camp and was lucky enough to go to Dubai Sevens and was then offered a contract.

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“It’s been a bit of a crazy season for me, but it’s been amazing and Giselle has been really supportive with letting me go off with the sevens and then coming back into the team.”

Wasps are currently fifth in the Premier 15s table and pushing reigning champions Harlequins hard for the final play-off spot, a task made all the easier by beating Quins for the first time in the Premier 15s era at the CBS Arena just before the international break.

“For that game, we went up there the night before and Giselle was making a point that Wasps had opened up the stadium just for us, so it was a special occasion. We were nervous but there was a belief which hasn’t always been there.

“We had a really good feeling running out. From the first scrum our forwards absolutely killed it and that was the first time as a team in a long time that things fully clicked. It takes time playing together for that to happen, and especially for us as a back three, we understand how each other play.”

Not only have performances come on the pitch, Boatman also credits the culture off the field for her recent run of form.

“After the last re-tender process in the Premier 15s when Richmond didn’t make it in, I then had to make a decision so that I could stay in the league and for me it was finding a club where the culture was quite similar to Richmond and Wasps matched up quite nicely. Other people notice how close we are and I think it’s really special, they’re my friends as well as my team mates. I know my teammates fully believe in me and back me and that does huge amounts for my confidence.”

Having attained a full-time contract, Boatman is yet another example of a player who has flourished with investment and the opportunity of professionalism.

“With the sevens we’re camp-based at Loughborough for two weeks at a time and then we come back on a Thursday to train with our clubs. We’ll then have two weeks of home training where I’ll be full time in the day with Wasps. It’s quite hectic but means I’m doing a lot of rugby training and I’m developing so much.”

Despite the Premier 15s competition taking a break for the Women’s Six Nations, there is no rest for Boatman with international sevens approaching in the form of the World Series in Langford, Canada.

“We’ve got some intense training coming up as we build to the end of April in the World Series and in the meantime we have Allianz Cup games for Wasps which is a great opportunity for us to play.

“I definitely think you play your best when you’re enjoying your rugby and I am enjoying myself right now! I know the people around me believe in me and that’s why I’m performing the way I am at the moment.”

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