Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

Lacey Owen is held aloft by team-mates after York’s Grand Remaining win over Leeds

Lacey Owen was 11 when she first picked up a rugby ball. Now aged 23, she is a Girls’s Tremendous League champion, an England worldwide, and one of many first feminine rugby league gamers within the nation to signal knowledgeable contract.

The York Valkyrie participant’s rise to the highest has not been with out its challenges although. Rising up in Castleford, she needed to get her oval-ball repair exterior of a handful of league matches for her college taking part in membership rugby union resulting from a scarcity of choices on the time from group golf equipment within the space.

Owen turned her hand to different sports activities equivalent to netball and soccer as effectively, however like many within the West Yorkshire city it was rugby league which was her fervent ardour, and he or she has quickly realised her ambitions since becoming a member of Castleford Tigers within the Girls’s Tremendous League as a 16-year-old.

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“The primary time I picked a rugby ball up – possibly it was the adrenaline I received or the very fact it was all proper to deal with any individual and run at folks,” Owen advised Sky Sports activities.

“It is a bit bizarre, however I felt prefer it was a sport I did not need to attempt to be good at, it simply got here naturally. I am a really sporty individual anyway so often if I attempted one thing I used to be good at it, however as quickly as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I needed to do.

“Since selecting a ball up from being in 12 months seven, I’ve by no means appeared again. I’ve tried each different sport you could possibly think about, however it does not fairly suffice for me in the best way rugby does.”

Though utilised as a fly-half or exterior centre in rugby union, Owen has discovered her area of interest as a second row in league and is now aiming to develop these ball-handling and organisational abilities utilised in her roles within the 15-a-side code after harnessing her capability to choose a very good line.

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Owen scored the third strive for York Valkyrie within the Betfred Girls’s Tremendous League Grand Remaining in opposition to Leeds Rhinos.

Owen scored the third strive for York Valkyrie within the Betfred Girls’s Tremendous League Grand Remaining in opposition to Leeds Rhinos.

After taking a six-month break from the game for private causes on the finish of 2021, Owen adopted her former Castleford head coach Lindsay Anfield to York in Might final 12 months and has rapidly grow to be a mainstay of the Valkyrie pack.

Her kind as York secured a primary Grand Remaining triumph final month, beating reigning champions Leeds Rhinos 16-6 on the LNER Neighborhood Stadium with Owen among the many try-scorers, was rewarded along with her incomes a primary England cap within the end-of-year Take a look at in opposition to Wales.

Her worldwide debut off the interchange bench at Headingley noticed Owen rating a strive with one among her first touches within the 60-0 win for the hosts, however maybe the most important second for her this 12 months got here when she was one among 20 Valkyrie gamers to be provided a two-year skilled contract.

“It is unreal girls in rugby league have gotten skilled contracts and I am one of many few girls within the nation who have gotten one,” Owen mentioned.

I am a really sporty individual anyway so often if I attempted one thing I used to be good at it, however as quickly as I picked a rugby ball up, I knew that was what I needed to do.

Lacey Owen

“It is a particular factor, too. I am not going to take it with no consideration subsequent season and it reveals how far rugby league has come as a complete, not simply the ladies’s sport, and reveals youthful women as effectively that is one thing you possibly can obtain and hopefully in a few years it’ll broaden.

“I used to be blown away once I received requested to signal a contract with York as a result of it’s a step ahead and it is one thing I’ve at all times needed to do. I’ve at all times needed it to be greater than a passion.”

Though now a contracted skilled participant, Owen will nonetheless be combining her rugby commitments along with her day-job at her outdated secondary college Castleford Academy, which suggests persevering with the lengthy days of heading to work a 7.30am and never getting again residence till 9pm after coaching with York.

Not that she is complaining concerning the sacrifices she has to make although, and Owen is enthused by the expansion of the ladies’s recreation in her residence space which was underlined by 4 different colleges bringing women groups to Castleford Academy earlier this week for a Wakefield district competitors.

Owen made a try-scoring debut for England within the end-of-season win over Wales

Owen has grow to be in demand for shirt shows and end-of-season awards nights for women groups too, and is humbled that she is being seen as an inspirational determine for the following technology.

“It is very nice as a result of I am a role-model for all these younger women [at school] and I coach three rugby groups, so it is very nice to see them progressing,” Owen mentioned.

“They requested me a lot of questions on it and say ‘Oh, Miss, do you assume we’ll be capable to try this as our job?’. It is very nice to hopefully assume girls will both be capable to do it part-time or full-time as a job.

“If we will obtain that working full-time, think about what we may obtain if we had full-time contracts within the sport.”

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York Valkyrie had been topped Girls’s Tremendous League champions for the primary time with a 16-6 Grand Remaining victory over Leeds Rhinos

York Valkyrie had been topped Girls’s Tremendous League champions for the primary time with a 16-6 Grand Remaining victory over Leeds Rhinos

The achievements of York’s girls in latest seasons have seen them grow to be the town’s main rugby league lights forward of the lads’s group, the Knights, within the Championship, and Owen is delighted Andrew Henderson’s squad have been absolutely supportive of their efforts as effectively.

The Girls’s Problem Cup has thus far eluded the Valkyrie although and the purpose for the 2024 season is so as to add that prize to the gathering, together with retaining the League Leaders’ Protect and repeating their Grand Remaining success.

“We have finished implausible this 12 months as a membership and one thing we have centered on is reaching the head on the proper time,” Owen mentioned. “That is one thing we did rather well, however now it is about us being constant all through subsequent 12 months.

“I feel the treble is on the playing cards for us subsequent 12 months and we have some nice gamers to hopefully execute that. Clearly, everyone knows Tremendous League rugby and finals rugby could be very totally different.

“It is when stress is utilized how we execute subsequent 12 months, however I’ve received us pinned for the treble – I hope so, anyway.”

Watch each match of the 2024 Tremendous League season, together with Magic Weekend, the play-offs, and males’s, girls’s, and wheelchair Grand Finals, dwell on Sky Sports activities. Additionally stream with NOW.

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