15 November 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Wales rugby league captain Rafiuke Taylor said she cried when she received her captain's call

Wales rugby league captain Rafiuke Taylor has revealed she cried when head coach Craig Taylor called to tell her she would captain her country.

The 41-year-old, who is the first Welsh woman to be selected for the national team in both rugby league and union, led her side into their first ever match on October 26 against Great Britain Teachers, a game they lost 30-6.

And Taylor will write her name in Welsh rugby league history once more this weekend as she is set to become the first woman to captain a Welsh rugby league side in a full international game when they take on England Lions on Saturday, November 16.

Speaking about being told she was captain, Taylor said: "I cried [when I got the phone call], I was in the middle of the street, I was walking to my nieces house.

"It's been such a whirlwind as well, for it all to happen so quickly, it just totally blew me away. It really is amazing.

"I was a part of [rugby] union and the captain at the time was someone to look up to, someone to inspire and to follow into battle.

"[The captain] had the passion for the game, I would just follow her. If she said 'this is what we're doing', that's what we were doing. Being in charge now, I hope the girls can look at me and go 'we want to follow you into battle.' That is just phenomenal."

Taylor was 36 when she was capped by Wales' rugby union side (Twitter: Wales Rugby League)

Wales currently only have two rugby league sides at club level for women to compete in and Taylor now hopes the sport can kick on in the country as a result of a national team being established.

Taylor added: "I'm hoping it'll skyrocket now because when it [rugby league] came out people weren't keen because there was nothing to aim for. 

"Now there's a climb, there's stages. There's a regional and national side. There's something more to aim for. I think a lot more people would have their eyes open to what's available and what's achievable."

Wales' opponents England are currently touring Papua New Guinea and so will be selecting from Championship and League one teams. 

"It is a huge occasion," said Taylor. "It's nice to be a part of getting out on the pitch, taking the Welsh game forward and taking our game to them.

"We've been making improvements to our game. There's a lot more structure to the game now, we're more aware of how different it is from union.

"We were a little bit naive going into the GB game, we were thinking 'oh we've played union how hard can it be?' Now we realised that, wow, yes this is completely different. We need to pay more attention to league and not rely on rugby union."

Rugby league as a sport has been making strides recently towards gender equality, especially with the World Cup Nines paying men and women equally.

Taylor said: "We are constantly fighting for equality in sport. So being involved from the very beginning, I am quite enthusiastic about getting equality across the board because we play the same game. 

"We are the same people. Just because I'm female why does that make a difference?"

England Lions vs Wales kicks off at 4pm on Saturday in St Helens.

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