A Monmouth girls’ school PE teacher is about to earn her first England cap in the RBS Women’s Six Nations.
Fullback Katie Mason, 24, will be on the squad for the first game this Sunday in Swansea.
The Bristol Ladies’ Squad member, who coaches sports at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, says it feels “amazing” to have been selected for the national match.
“The women’s team won the World Cup in Paris this summer and sitting in the stands watching, I had no expectations of being involved in the next Six Nations,” she said.
“Once selected into the Elite Performance Squad (EPS) in October, I started to believe that if I put the work in I may be rewarded with a chance to earn my first cap and now that time has come.”
Katie, who is working towards her PGCE qualification at HMSG, has been involved in the set up since she was 17-years-old.
She was in the Talent Development Squad for two years until she reached the U20 squad.
“Since then I have been involved in the 7s development squads and the England Academy Programs trialling each year for the EPS,” she added.
“It is a huge commitment and both the individual and team training involved takes up a lot of my free time, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
“Ultimately I love the sport and that’s why I do it, if I get the chance to represent my country as well then that’s a huge bonus.
“This is the start of a new chapter for England Women – they have just won a World Cup and the next one is just around the corner in 2017, so my ultimate goal is to be playing in that and be in with a chance of winning a second World Cup title.
“I also love the 7-a-side game and would love the chance to represent England in the World IRB Series which takes place all over the world.”
Juggling teaching with professional rugby playing can be demanding, but Katie says HMSG encourages her to fulfil her goals.
She said: “I am very lucky to be working in a school that is highly supportive of my commitment to rugby.
“In terms of training, unfortunately it’s early mornings and late nights so that I can fit it all in, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
“I have formed some great relationships with both staff and pupils within the school and my department.
“It can be a bit of a juggling act to stay on top of my PGCE and playing rugby, but at HMSG I am able to manage both.
“I am also involved in boarding life which allows me to see the girls in a different light and likewise these girls get to see a different side to me.”
Tom Arrand, Deputy Head at HMSG, said: “Katie is an outstanding sports coach and role model to the girls.
“Many of the girls are going to Swansea on Sunday to see her play because they look up to her so much and aspire to follow in her footsteps.
“She balances her commitments to England and Bristol Rugby with a full teaching timetable and boarding duties.
“In a year when there is such a strong drive to encourage women to play sport, Katie certainly shows that This Girl Can!”