With the RBS 6 Nations in full flow, we return to the rugby field for this month’s Christians in Sport Podcast. Army captain and former England women’s international Ann O’Flynn was a real pioneer when she took up the sport in the 1980s. The only girl at Slough RFC, she played in a boys’ team from the ages of seven to 13 and soon developed a reputation as the side’s top tackler. By the time she joined Richmond RFC as a sixth former, Ann already had a clear plan as to how she would play for her country. She made the England senior squad in 1994, but not without switching position from utility back to hooker.
Ann tells Danno of her highs and lows on the rugby stage from reaching the World Cup final to missing out on the next tournament due to injury. She is now relishing her second sporting career as a referee where she is happy to put sceptical male players in their place!
Throughout all this, Ann was very clear that her rugby skills were a gift from God and that she could worship Him as she played. Now, as a chaplain she is looking to show today’s players how this is possible. She said: “I understood that when I wanted to worship God on a Sunday, it didn’t always have to be in a church building or in a quiet moment of reflective prayer. It could be singing songs of praise as loud as I could or it could be running as fast as I could or tackling somebody as hard as I could.”
Listen to this absorbing podcast as Ann talks about:
- Being an “anomaly” as a girl playing rugby (2 mins 30 sec)
- Setting up a women’s rugby club at Liverpool University so she didn’t have to play for their rivals (7.00)
- Plotting her path to play for England (8.30)
- How her family fitted rugby around church (13.05)
- Becoming “more unmanageable” during the summer when she couldn’t play rugby (13.50)
- Making her England debut in oversized kit (17.45)
- Prioritising rugby over beer as a student (19.00)
- Switching from playing in the backs to hooker (21.30)
- Mixed emotions at the 2002 World Cup (25.30)
- Feeling distraught at missing out on the 2006 World Cup due to injury (28.25)
- Becoming a referee (33.00) and dealing with sceptical male players (35.20)
- Worshipping God and her role as a chaplain (36.40)
And much more…
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Listen again to series one of the podcast here
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