England ace Lark Davies: Becoming a professional rugby player is a dream come true
Forget starring for her country in the Six Nations – Lark Davies is already living her dream as a professional rugby player.
Davies, from Ludlow, swapped the classrooms for the changing rooms at the turn of the year as one of 28 female rugby players awarded full-time contracts by the RFU (Rugby Football Union).
January 3 was hailed as a landmark day for the sport in this country. For Davies, 23, it was a dream she feared may always be out of reach.
“The bonus of us being full-time is that we can take things from the games and work on them in the week in training,” said the former teaching assistant at Carnforth Primary School in Worcester.
“There’s many positives to it, it’s game-changing for women in England. We can be together as a team, analyse things more, rest and recover together.
“I was a teacher and I left at the end of last year when the term finished.
“I had to put teaching aside. My dream was always to professionally play rugby but I did not know if that could ever happen. It’s amazing.”
Davies’s rise in the last 12 months has been startling. She only started her first England match in the Six Nations of 2018, but now she is a regular fixture.
England were narrowly edged into second by France last year, thanks to a late try scored in front of a world-record crowd of 17,500 in Grenoble. A result that proved crucial in the tournament’s outcome. This year’s Six Nations, where Simon Middleton’s side have high hopes of going one better, could not have started better for the Red Roses or for Davies, who plays her club rugby for Worcester Valkyries.
She scored a try as England set down an early marker, triumphing 51-7 over Ireland in Dublin last weekend.
Now England are braced for a real test today against holders France at Castle Park, a venue where the home nation thrive.
England and France are ranked second and third in the world respectively. The French began their Six Nations with a resounding 52-3 win over Wales.
“This week has been making sure we’re prepared well for France,” continued Davies, who plays as a hooker and wears No.2 for her country.
“It’s been a really good start to the tournament, but there’s definitely a feeling in the squad as a whole that there’s more to come.
“There are definitely still things to learn and develop to take into the weeks ahead. It’s a good position to be in. The preparation we’ve been able to do this week is key. We had a successful Autumn series and used that as a platform in our first game.
“What’s exciting me is there’s such a good home crowd at Doncaster. I’m really looking forward to that, we’ll hopefully get a lot of young people watching, bringing a different demographic in which is really good for the game.
“The Doncaster home crowd are fantastic and we have their support behind us. In the autumn we beat Canada and had a record-breaking home crowd (Davies top scored for England that day, with two tries).”
The south Shropshire star shows a sort of driven humility when summing up her own form.
“I received fans’ player of the match (against Ireland) which I’m always really grateful for,” Davies added.
“The support from the home crowd and those that travel means a lot. There are still parts of my game that I want to develop and work on.”
It has been some rise for Davies. She played tag rugby at Orleton Church Of England Primary School in Ludlow but found it difficult to find a girls’ rugby team.
But Davies, who swam as a youngster and was also a lifeguard at Teme Leisure, decided on rugby due to the thrill of the physical battle. She joined Worcester Valkyries a decade ago and has not looked back.
She said: “I knew I aspired to play rugby. Swimming up and down was boring. At quite a young age I decided that I wanted to succeed and that I couldn’t do both.
“My sister Fern was a swimmer and my older sister was a lawyer, they were really driven to help me.
“My dad played rugby but I don’t think he ever thought his daughter would become a rugby player!”
England’s clash against France is a 12.45pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Action.