Guest blog by Rachael Burford
Where it all begins….
I first picked up a rugby ball when I was 6 years old, following in my mother’s, fathers and sister’s footsteps. Rugby was in my blood and ran through our family - now after 22 years of playing, it is my full time job.
I played the first 10 years of my career at Medway RFC, my local rugby club where my family also played.
I then moved to a premiership club in 2004, Henley. I spent 2 years at Henley before moving to Saracens in 2006. During my time at Saracens we were highly successful in winning the Premiership title three years in a row. I then relocated to west London in 2009, which meant also moving clubs. I moved to the rival’s….Richmond RFC. I have an incredible three seasons at Richmond where we picked up the title 3 years in a row - history repeating itself at a different club! With 6 premiership titles to my name I wanted a different challenge and wanted to be closer to home in Kent.
I decided to make a big move to Thurrock RFC. The team was recently promoted into the premiership and I knew it would be a big challenge moving to Thurrock.
Playing at Saracens and Richmond these teams are full of international talent whereas at Thurrock I would be the only international player. The club reminded me of Medway, the club I grew up in. It had a real friendly family feel about the place and I was instantly attached to the club from the moment I stepped through the door. Now in my third season, championship winners last season and this year we are hunting for promotion back into the premiership next season…Watch this space!
I was first selected as a 16 year old, where I represented the England under19s squad. Through the next 4 years I progressed through the England Pathway playing for England Academy A’s, and then earning my first Cap debut in 2006.
Since then I’ve been privileged to play for my country 56 times and in that time I have travelled the world attending many different competitions. I was a part of 3 Rugby World cup campaigns 2006, 2010 and 2014. After 8 years of trying to win a gold medal and become a world champion I finally did it, we won the Rugby world cup and my dream came true. I am a World Champion!
Internationally the last year has been incredible. I was a part of the winning Rugby World Cup side this year, I was also named England player of year for the 2013-2014 season and most recently this month I was given a full time England Sevens contract.
In 2009 Rugby Sevens was voted to be a part of the Olympic games… A new dream came alive! I could now have the opportunity to go to the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. As of September this year, 20 players received full time professional contracts and we now have started a 2 year journey in the build up to Rio 2016.
We train full time Monday - Friday out of Surrey Sports Park. This will take us to the next level.
The opportunity to be a full time rugby player allows me to be able to pay more attention to my rest, recovery and nutrition and give it the detail it needs.
Previously trying to do a full time job and train full time has been a struggle trying to get the right balance. It was difficult because I was always in a rush to go from work to training and I could never put the time into ensuring my nutritional needs were met.
Being at my peak performance requires detailed planning around what I eat and when I eat, and now I have the exciting opportunity to take my performance to the next level. Over the past year, coconut oil has been my essential need! I have it for everything and with everything, everyday! Thank you Lucy Bee for your support - it’s the foundation of my nutrition!
You can follow the road to Rio via twitter @RachaelBurf12
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