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Women's Rugby Splash 17

University of Exeter Women's Rugby flying high

Women's Rugby goes from strength to strength

Current University of Exeter sports scholar, Poppy Leitch, captained England Women’s Under 20’s to a 38-15 win versus Army Women on 16 February at Aldershot Army Rugby Stadium as well as a 17-7 defeat to France Women’s Under 20’s at Esher RFC on 25 February. 

Representing the side alongside Poppy were two other current University sports scholars, Catriona McNaney and Jeanine Stephenson (replacement). Poppy, a BSc Exercise and Sport Sciences student, has represented England Under 18’s, Under 20’s and already has 6 full international caps to her name to date – even taking part in the Women’s Six Nations last year in which she played alongside Exeter alumna Amber Reed, who at the time of writing has 35 international caps.

TASS athlete and potential University of Exeter student Lagilagi Tuima also took part in the match, whilst University alumna and Wales International, Gemma Rowland, captained Army women. England Women Under 20’s Head Coach, Jo Yapp, also coaches the University of Exeter Women’s Rugby Team and said:

“We have had a number of individuals who have gone on to be very successful achieving full international honours which is great, however we are also really pleased that we have a number of girls who join rugby for the first time whilst at Exeter and then continue to go and join clubs when they leave.”

In total, the University currently has five women’s rugby players who are part of the University of Exeter High Performance Programme and Sports Scholarship Scheme, in which exceptionally talented student athletes are provided with a comprehensive package of support and financial benefits. This includes state-of-the art training facilities, expert coaching, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, sports massage, sports science services and video analysis.

Jo continued:

“I am very proud to work with all the girls at Exeter University, they are an extremely committed and hard working group of girls who have created a great culture and environment in which to work and play rugby. We are very fortunate to have excellent facilities and support, this includes strength & conditioning, physio, analysis and access to our rubber crumb pitches on which to train.”

Many graduating scholars have progressed to a professional level in their chosen sport and have represented their respective countries on the global stage, such as Jess Ho who currently represents Hong Kong’s Women Rugby 7’s squad.

Poppy will hope to captain England Women Under 20’s again on 17 March as they look to gain revenge against France Women Under 20’s at Stade Guy Boniface in Mont-de-Marsan. With numerous players already representing their country at various levels, women’s Rugby at the University of Exeter continues to thrive.

For more information on high performance sport at the University of Exeter, please visit

Date: 9 March 2017