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TRY and succeed as students step up to play for Rugby England

8 February 2022

Both Grace Clifford and Katie Shillaker, who play for Harlequins, have trained in any spare time they have had for months to get to this opportunity.

Although both students have worked incredibly hard to get to this level, neither Grace nor Katie expected to be part of such a huge opportunity. 

Grace said: “Getting into the Under 18s squad is such a privilege. When I saw my name on that list, I was stunned to think all the hard work I and the people around me had put in has actually paid off – it was immense.  

“It’s crazy to think this time last year I didn’t see rugby as career path or something I really excel in but more like something fun to do outside of my studies, yet here I am a year later, representing my country in a sport I’ve learned to love at 17.” 

Both Grace and Katie plan to fight through to the top and that means working their way to the next level, which will be the Under 20s squad. Through a combination of their hard work, determination and support from family, friends and coaches, they can see this goal in sight. 

Katie added: “Being part of the England team is an unbelievable achievement and I have my best mate to celebrate and share this experience with. 

“My parents have been the rock of my journey; with the hours and hours they spend driving me to training and matches and standing in the freezing cold to watch.  

“They have always been there for me and knowing I made them proud has made it all the better.” 

Amongst proud parents and their mutual support of one another, several staff members across the college group have proudly celebrated Katie and Grace’s new positions on the squad. 

Mark Rugman, Worthing College’s rugby coach, has supported both students from the start of their journey. 

Mark said: “The college and I are really proud of the achievements of Grace and Katie, and also Jessie Spurrier who I am confident would be in the same position, if not out with a long-term injury.  

“All the girls are continuing a fantastic tradition of rugby players who have attended the college, and we are fortunate to have played a role in their journey.  

“The future looks extremely exciting for them, and we cannot wait to see where their journey will take them.”