My Coaching Journey; Scarlett Cooper-Wall (Head Coach of Loughborough’s 2XV, UK)



I started playing rugby when I was 6 years old and was the only girl for 4 seasons. I had to leave this team when I was too old to play with the boys and as there were no girls teams in the area I had to stop playing. At school I took part in lacrosse and netball but no sport matched the enjoyment I found in rugby.

At 14, I  found a girls team nearby and went to a training session, my first match back was incredible. I stayed with this team until I was 18  and during this time, had the opportunity to represent my county and region. I regained passion, enjoyment and a certain degree of success in the sport I loved but achievements in womens’ rugby  do not yet demand the respect and admiration I am adamant they deserve outside the community.

At 16 I was selected to go to Hartpury College on the AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship of Sporting Excellence) and complete my A Levels alongside playing rugby every day and learning about being an athlete. The 2 years I spent at Harptpury  were incredible and that ‘big legs’ bought you status, was quite the contrast to my earlier years at school.

As I continued my education at Loughborough, I was selected for the England U20 squad where my premiere game was against France. My last game to represent my country (so far) was in April 2016, when very unfortunately  I sustained a severe injury to my knee and ruptured the ACL. After consultation with a knee surgeon I was due for 2 operations and at least a year out of playing, and was absolutely heartbroken.  In retrospect however, this injury did represent the beginning of my coaching career.

Though being unable to play rugby seemed the end of the world, distancing myself entirely from the womens’ rugby community was unthinkable.  Fortunately my status as a player, combined with the proactivity of the university meant  I was quickly appointed as the coach of our old development team that was newly entered as Loughborough’s 2XV.  My reputation as a committed athlete with a high work rate swiftly became both a delight and a source of despair for my new team. I signed myself up for every course and CPD going, and gleefully provided them with practical evident of my new found knowledge.

In addition, I started doing similar work anywhere and everywhere I could and kept a diary of each session. The end of the season came and I’d found a passion for coaching, especially females in a male-dominated sport.  I am supremely committed to raising awareness of the challenges faced by sports women and change the mainstream perceptions associated with traditionally ‘male’ sports.

I am so grateful to have discovered my first girls rugby team, and having recognised what it represented to me, I feel compelled to pass this on to the girls I coach.

I was nearly back to game fit, and 11 months on from my first ACL rupture, I sustained the exact same injury in my other knee taking me out of play for another year. This was extremely frustrating, like a whole year had been wasted. Yet, there I was Head Coach of Loughborough’s 2XV for the second year running. Now at the end of this season my team was undefeated and promoted into the league above.

To gain more coaching experience I am going to Malawi this summer to coach rugby to the children in schools, donate kit and equipment and empower female athletes. This is in support of the Love Support Unite charity and any donations would be greatly appreciated

I intend to continue my playing career next season while developing my coaching with a goal of delivering my own summer camps for girls only.