07 December 2019

Worcester Warriors captain Lyndsay O'Donnell on the balancing act faced by most women players to earn a living alongside playing the game they love

As captain of Worcester Warriors Lyndsay O'Donnell is familiar with ball juggling - which comes in pretty useful as she organises her training around her 'exhausting and fulfilling' job as an NHS physiotherapist.

While her club announced that they would be paying there players this season, the women still need to work full-time outside of rugby to make a living. The 26-year-old has a masters degree in physiotherapy and used to be a sports therapist before turning to her latest position.

O'Donnell said: "Yeah it's definitely difficult to juggle things. I work as a physiotherapist in a hospital so I'm not necessarily always training fresh as I've been at work all day.

"You also have other things to do in life that aren't to do with rugby and work so time management can be difficult sometimes, but at the moment that is the reality of women's rugby for the majority of players.

"We have to work to maintain a living. We play rugby as we really enjoy it. At the moment I'm taking some work on weekends so I can take some time off during the week to do training when I can.

"It can be tiring, I am on my feet quite a lot but I suppose it's what I've been used to. Before I was a physio I was a sports therapist so I've always been on my feet.

"I really enjoy my job, I find it really fulfilling, so I get a lot of energy from that but you do come to training and you're like 'I am exhausted, maybe I need to tailor my training to how my body is feeling'.

"It's about taking that rest and recovery where you can."

The back row has said that her club does look after their players. Worcester only have one full-time player on their books, England's Lydia Thompson, so the back room staff are aware of the pressures players are under.

O'Donnell added: "We fill in our daily monitoring so the coaches and medical staff know how our bodies are. The management team here are great, as all bar one of us do have jobs outside of rugby, so they look after us really well."

O'Donnell says that her club looks after players (Twitter: Worcester Warriors Women)

The captain's hard work paid off last weekend as Worcester achieved their first win of the season against Bristol Bears. The south western team secured a 17-15 victory - their third ever win in the Tyrells Premier 15s. O'Donnell has said that she felt relief as the final whistle blew.

The Scot said: "I think my biggest emotion was relief, that we finally did it. It was a close game, especially towards the end of the match.

"So relief was my first emotion and after that it was pure joy, excitement, happiness. I was just really happy to finally get the first win of the season."

Sixways, Worcester Warriors home of rugby, saw them break their Premier 15s attendance record with 1,721 fans watching their team claim victory. 

O'Donnell said: "It was a physical game and that added to the spectacle, coming away with the win was the icing on the cake.

"The supporters were great. It's amazing when players make breaks and you can hear the supporters it's good for motivation, it gives you that energy.

"I think for a lot of the girls in the squad it was the biggest crowd they have played in front of but they coped with it really well. It was brilliant to see everyone keep their composure, I was apprehensive - especially as we were looking for that win - but the occasion came together brilliantly.

"We had some great comments from supporters after the match, some of the girls had people coming up to them saying they've never watched women's rugby before and that they would definitely be coming back to watch more."

O'Donnell, far right, says Loughborough will be a 'battle' this weekend (JMP)

Worcester are heading away this weekend for the next round of the Premier 15s, their opponents are fourth-in-the-table Loughborough Lightning.

O'Donnell added: "It's going to be a tough away game for us again. They beat Richmond 34-0 last weekend so we know we're going into a battle there.

"We'll take our learnings from this previous match. We will keep building our performances and look to keep building momentum."

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox