Holly Blackhurst captained Sussex ladies’ rugby team for the first time as they won their opening game of the season 34-7 against Hampshire.
Blackhurst, who works for Chichester-based Shotgun PR, plays at No8 for Worthing Ladies.
It was her best friend Vicky Fleetwood who inspired her to play more than ten years ago. Fleetwood now plays sevens rugby and represents Great Britain and is off to represent the country in this year’s Rio Olympics.
Blackhurst said: “I love the community rugby brings as well as the feeling of being an athlete in a sport that is not a traditional female sport. I don’t like the fact some people think women should not play rugby in the 21st-century society we live in.
“We (Sussex) beat Hampshire in a county game 34-7 at Southampton’s Test Park. I was asked to be captain by the head coach Paddy O’Hara for the duration of the county season, which is a huge honour.
“It made me feel so proud that he selected me to lead the Sussex team. There was a lot of competition for this role... it’s a moment I will always remember.”
Blackhurst was involved again when Sussex beat Hertfordshire 17-15 in the first game of the championship.
They are due to play Oxfordshire in the second round of the championship this Sunday.
O’Hara is head coach of Sussex women’s team and having watched all the ladies’ teams in Sussex from championship level to the lower-league, he had the tough job of picking the players he believed were the best in the county. Five Worthing Ladies were selected as well as three University of Chichester players.
“You never know quite what’s going to happen when you take players from eight different teams and put them together,” O’Hara said.
“But the whole squad pulled together superbly and looked like they had been playing together for years.
“Holly is a natural leader and has a real presence on and off the pitch which made it an easy choice and really galvanised the squad.”
Kylee Charles, director of communications agency Shotgun PR, said: “We’re really proud of Holly and her achievement captaining the Sussex team.
“Her steely determination evident through the work she produces for us is truly evident on the pitch. Often covered in bruises at the start of the week, Holly enthusiastically recounts the game she played and more often than not, her team have won.”
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