Chichester’s Meg Cliff is off on the trip of a lifetime - she has flown to join the British Lions’ rugby union tour to New Zealand as a ‘Pick of The Pride’ ambassador. Here, she writes about how the chance of a lifetime has come about.
Pick of the Pride is a group of young ambassadors aged 18-21 who are heading over to New Zealand next Monday on the Lions tour to spend time at New Zealand rugby clubs seeing how we can integrate the positives into home nations rugby.
For long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Lion. It was a little bit of an issue seeing as I’m a girl, but then, that also didn’t stop me from wanting to be Jonah Lomu.
Rugby has always been in our family. When I got an injury that stopped me from playing when I was only 14, I was ready to turn away from rugby and focus on other sports and hobbies.
Just over a year ago I thought I’d get back into coaching and I became a Young Rugby Ambassador with the RFU. I had an amazing summer coaching in Fiji and Australia and truly caught the rugby bug again.
When I started university at Cardiff Metropolitan in September last year, I was proudly selected for the RFU National Youth Council – a board of 12 young volunteers within rugby. We play a part in advising the development of grass-roots and age-grade rugby, along with the retention of players.
I applied with a video and my testimonial and forgot about it... until the call to say that I had been picked as one of five English ambassadors to attend a selection day.
Off I toddled on London and met 18-21-year-olds from all four nations. The day was a total whirlwind, in the best way possible! It’s not often you walk into a hotel conference room to be greeted by John Spencer, the Lions tour manager and an ex-England international.
We were set an interview about why we thought we were the best volunteers and rugby representatives to travel to New Zealand, as well as team activities – after all, the Lions set-up is all about being one pride.
There was a tense wait to find out the results, especially over the bank holiday. A call from Jenny Box woke me up and I think it’s easily the best wake-up call I’ve ever had!
The past few weeks have been an amazing whirlwind of congratulatory messages from friends, family, university members and team-mates.
While we’re out there, our aim is to attend clubs, NZ rugby headquarters, Lions fan engagement events, schools and other rugby environments to understand how their love and dedication to rugby keeps players involved and participating.
Once we return to England, we will be taking on a ‘domestic’ tour of our Home Counties, spreading the findings from our trip and using the Lions’ core values to inspire participation, inclusion and game growth.
RFU National Youth Council
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