Siwan Lillicrap is Head of Rugby at Swansea which means she is responsible for men’s and women’s rugby at the University.
How did you get into rugby?
I developed my love of rugby during my childhood, watching my father coach and my brother play at Waunarlwydd Rugby Club. Unfortunately, there were no local junior girls’ sides, but I was desperate to join Waunarlwydd Ladies. My mother insisted I wait until I was 17 because of the physical element of rugby. The week after my seventeenth birthday I went training and a few weeks later I played my first game. The following season I started at Swansea University where I could pursue rugby further.
What are the biggest challenges facing the women’s game today?
The biggest challenge we face is balancing other commitments with competing. Women’s sport still hasn’t caught up with men’s but there have been improvements, with more media coverage and better resources. I just hope these strides forward continue post-Covid-19.
What makes a good captain?
This is a difficult one as I’m sure opinions differ. In my eyes, a good captain is one that wouldn’t expect any of their team mates to do anything they wouldn’t, someone who is willing to lead from the front, someone who is passionate, driven and willing to make sacrifices. And hopefully with all the above comes respect. You have to be level-headed, choose your moments to speak and make decisions as in the heat of the moment your actions could have an impact.
How do you balance sport and teaching?
It’s hard, but it’s about sacrifices. As we coach early in the mornings and late in the evenings to avoid lectures, I’m barely home Monday to Friday. It’s the same at weekends in season due to training camps or games. I’m lucky my family is so supportive, but I don’t have time for much else. It’s worth it though - I love my job and I love putting on that red shirt, so the sacrifices are absolutely worth it.
What advice would you give to girls starting out in rugby?
Enjoy it! Rugby is where I’ve made my best friends and it’s taught me so much about life: discipline, passion, commitment, drive, and so much more. It has given me so much joy in my life on and off the field, I wouldn’t change any of it. I would say, don’t put pressure on yourself; everyone will achieve different things but the important thing is you have a great time with friends.
What does the future look like?
Busy! University Rugby is growing. Next year is also World Cup year for the world of women’s rugby therefore over the next 18 months I will be dedicating more time to my training and wellbeing to ensure I’m in the best shape possible to hopefully be on that plane to New Zealand.