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Emma Lowe: Leaving a Legacy

Why did you want to become the captain of the UYWRUFC?

Playing for the team for two seasons in my first and second years at university and experiencing great friendship and camaraderie (not to mention success) was one of the main influences in becoming captain. Having played for many years at club, county and divisional level, I started to lose my love for rugby but the team spirit, dedication and determination at York was nothing like I had ever experienced – it gave me back my love for the game, especially when I was at the height of doubting whether I wanted to continue playing. Grace and Alice (my previous captains) really did set the bar high and I was driven to challenge myself and build upon those achievements. I captained at club level for West Park Leeds so I felt like I could bring something new to the team in terms of leadership. Being able to give back to the club that had helped me so much throughout my degree, both physically and mentally, was incredibly important to me. It was an honour to represent the club as I have never played for a team with so much support and aspirations for success on individual and team levels. Also, being able to be captain of the most successful team that the university has ever seen has been one of the greatest achievements of both my rugby and university career.

Could you tell us a little bit about what being UYWRUFC captain involves?

As Club Captain you overlook both the first and second teams at training sessions and behind the scenes. You also help run the first team on game days alongside the vice-captain. At training sessions, the captain runs warm ups and helps run training in conjunction with the coaches. Furthermore, the captain is responsible for organising training times and preseason sessions. You must also be available for all training sessions and games. The captain organises game times and transport to and from games. For game days you work with the coach to decide squads. It is extremely important that the captain and coach agree on this and also work well together both on and off the pitch! One of the most important things for a captain to have is a thorough understanding of the game and the rules involved as it will be yourself who the referee speaks to throughout the match. As club captain you must be a friendly and approachable person for people to go to if they ever need help. You must also be aware of the legacy you want to leave behind and the kind of captain you want to be for the club. Overall, a captain needs to be organised, calm and friendly. They should always be punctual and enthusiastic. However, the main thing is to love the club, make sure everyone is happy and always aim for success.

Before you became captain in 2019, you were captained by super-centre Alice Jones. What was your experience being captained by her and did you learn anything that you took with you into your own captaincy?

Being captained by Alice was one of the most influential and eye-opening experiences whilst playing for the UYWRUFC. She was a phenomenal captain and a great friend. Alice was always super organised and an amazing team player who was definitely a valued member of the team. I learnt a lot about myself in the role and from AJ, a great deal about time management and leading a team to success. Alice was always extremely motivated on and off the pitch and her drive to success is something I aimed to follow on from. Even after leaving uni, she still continued to mentor me – helping with all the admin duties which are a major part of the captain’s role. I hoped to follow the amazing example and success she left behind as she was one the main reasons why I went for the role of club captain. Alice supported me both before and through my role and I owe her so much for the help she gave me throughout my time at the club. I still stay in touch with AJ and I am grateful to rugby for introducing me to a lifelong friend.

How important is the relationship between Captain and Vice? What was your relationship with Vice-captain Olivia Almond like?

The relationship between Captain and Vice is essential for the smooth running of the team. The vice-captain is an extra pair of eyes on the pitch and sees things you might miss in the midst of a game. There must be constant communication and agreement both on and off the pitch as organisation between the two allows for a successful cohesion and for the club to run smoothly. My relationship with Olivia Almond was brilliant. We have known each other since our first training session and have been close friends ever since. Both of us playing rugby before university for many years allowed for new experiences on both our parts. We were also on the same course, meaning we had communication every day so we could always voice any concerns, ideas or tasks that needed to be completed. Having Olivia as vice-captain this year helped massively and having a friendship between the two roles is, in my opinion, a key to success in the running of the team. It was an honour to play for an amazing club and captain with Liv by my side the whole way. I will miss her loads and hope to keep in touch!

What did you enjoy the most about being UYWRUFC captain?

I loved being able to lead a successful team with such drive and determination. The camaraderie within the team was like no other I have played for before as shown by our success in remaining within the premiership (Ian you still owe us a tattoo!) and a promotion in the second team. I also learnt a lot about myself as a player and as a person – I realised I am capable of much more than I thought. I will always be thankful to Ian for being an extremely supportive coach that helped me develop massively as a player. The enjoyment I gained from training and playing for the UYWRUFC is unexplainable. Most of all I have made memories that will last forever and friendships for life.

What advice would you give to a girl who would like to become captain in the upcoming years?

There is no written set of skills to define a good captain. Everyone leads in their own way and has to find their own style of leadership. One of the key things I’ve learnt is to not expect the team to do something that you are not prepared to do yourself. Remember that support is always there from your team members, coach and the university (even your housemates, as I’m sure mine are over the moon that they no longer have to hear about rugby!). Throughout all your roles as captain, don’t second guess your decisions – go with your gut. Being captain is an honour and as a team you can’t let losing bring down the morale as learning from your mistakes is paramount to improvement. Always remember to communicate well and not to show favouritism. Think of the legacy you want to leave behind and the type of captain you want to be remembered as. My main piece of advice would be to enjoy yourselves; you only get this opportunity once and trust me, it flies by!

Thanks, Emma!

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