Women’s Super League: Wigan Warriors’ Anna Mary Davies on her unusual journey from athletics to rugby league | Rugby League News

A former national youth hurdles sprint medalist, winger Anna Mary Davies is carving out a second sporting career in the Betfred Women’s Super League with Wigan after injury ended her athletic ambitions

Last updated: 16/12/21 17:42


Anna Mary Davies had an unusual trip to play the Women’s Super League with Wigan

Having not grown up steeped in rugby league history, Anna Mary Davies admits she was somewhat oblivious to how important it was when she was first invited to play for the Wigan Warriors.

In fact, the winger’s first sporting love wasn’t even the oval ball game code, competing as a sprint hurdler for Nottingham’s Notts Athletic Club before injury reduced those ambitions.

Although unknown to her at the time, this led Davies down a path that led to taking part in rugby in Bath, playing for the Great Britain Teachers rugby league team and then starring in the Women’s Super League this year for the Warriors.

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It was Wigan women’s team assistant John Whalley, at which point also women’s head coach GB Teachers, who spotted the 26-year-old’s potential and invited her to move up north – a move she readily accepted once became aware of the Cherry and The trophy-rich history of whites in men’s football.

“At the time, I had no idea what he offered me,” Davies said Sky Sports. “Then digging into the history of things I thought ‘Oh!’.

“I’m a huge football fan, so it’s almost like I’m being asked to play for Manchester United. I was excited and talked to my manager in Bath, and he said to try. The Super League is growing and it seems to be a very exciting time to be part of the women’s rugby league.

“My goal was to get there and get only one place as a starter in the team. The fact that I managed to achieve this, and came faster than I expected, I’m really happy.

Davies scored six tries in 12 appearances for Wigan in 2022

Davies scored six tries in 12 appearances for Wigan in 2022

“Just having a season behind and playing consistently for the season puts me in a good position for 2022 and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Davies had previously competed in athletics nationally, winning medals in both the U15 and U17 age groups before suffering a stress fracture that required surgery and would keep her out of competition in any sport for five years.

When she was finally given the green light in 2018, she was persuaded by her rugby player friends from her bachelor’s degree in sports science at the University of Bath to try her hand at the union and quickly uncovered her feet for Bath Ladies, the women’s arm of the Gallagher Premiership club.

It was Bath head coach and Warrington native John Gould who encouraged Davies, who was then working as an assistant teacher, to participate in the GB teachers’ south trials and impressed enough to earn a team call up and this opportunity with Wigan.

I’m a huge football fan, so it’s almost like I’m being asked to play for Manchester United.

Anna Mary Davies plays for Wigan

This was followed by appearances against the Armed Forces and Wales, in the last of which she scored a hat-trick, while Davies’ first season in the Women’s Super League in 2021 saw her score six tries in 12 appearances while the Warriors are come fifth.

It was undoubtedly a rapid rise for Davies in a sport she was unfamiliar with, but most of all she is grateful for the opportunity after spending those five years without competing in the sport that gave her a chance to reevaluate her priorities in life.

“I think I’ve done some traveling myself,” said Davies, who is a practicing Christian. “Athletics was the most important thing to me, while in that moment when I couldn’t do it my faith became more and more important to me.

“When I had the opportunity to return, I was studying sports science at Bath Uni on the team and half of my course was playing rugby, so I had a group of friends who were trying to get me to do it. I thought that changing the sport had given me the chance to enjoy it rightfully.

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“It seems strange: when I play rugby, I enjoy it, but I am really grateful for the opportunity to play it. While with athletics, it was my staple.

“It’s not that my commitment isn’t the same, because it is, but I’m really grateful to play it – and I can use my speed, so it’s good to play and I love the challenge.”

The women’s team may not yet have the same level of success as Wigan’s men – the 2018 Super League title is their only trophy to date – but Davies is optimistic that they can compete for honors again when the 2022 season. will start.

How much they are part of the club as a whole is shown by the fact that players like Davies have joined the members of the men’s and wheelchair teams as part of the community’s “Warriors Unite” program.

Davies attends a Warriors Unite session at St Benedict's Primary School in Hindley

Davies attends a Warriors Unite session at St Benedict’s Primary School in Hindley

This included going to schools in the Wigan district, where Davies enjoyed inspiring the next generation and showing girls the opportunities that open up for them in rugby league, as well as going back to her roots by working in education. .

“It differs somewhat from the fact that I think the boys respect you for rugby,” Davies said with a laugh. “Also, previously I was a teaching assistant and a rugby player.

“I love both of them, but rugby is my passion, so it’s pretty cool to be able to come in and do the thing I love with kids. It was cool and a little different, and you can be a little more yourself.

“I never thought I’d be able to get in as a player, but that’s progress from where the game was to where it is now.”

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