England rugby star Marlie Packer swaps tackles for plumbing
Marlie Packer this week went from tackling the world’s best rugby players to tackling faulty gas boilers still glowing with pride at thumping the globe’s top women’s team.
The England ace from Yeovil helped propel her country to a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand that culminated in a 32-23 defeat of the visitors at Twickenham on Saturday.
However, plumber Packer had little time to revel in the glory and was back to work for Jones Building Contractors on Monday.
But she did so safe in the kn owledge that her national team’s most recent achievements had continued to accelerate the sport’s stellar rise.
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Former Ivel Barbarian and current Bristol captain Packer said: “The profile of women’s rugby is always going up and has been since the 2010 World Cup.
“It has gone up massively again thanks to this series with New Zealand. Michaela Staniford was awarded the IRB Player of the Year award at Twickenham, so we are getting quite a lot of coverage.
“We have had television cameras at our training camp and I have even been live on local television giving an interview. It’s great that we are getting this much exposure.
“We all have full-time jobs and we all train hard in our own time, so we want to get as much coverage and recognition as possible.
“With rugby, the profile is getting bigger all the time, but we are also getting younger people involved, which means they are all keeping fit. That was one of the biggest advantages for me when I was growing and it kept me on the straight and narrow.”
Having started the first test at Esher in Surrey but only named as a replacement at Aldershot four days later, Packer returned to the starting XV at Twickenham - an experience she said she would savour.
“It was just amazing to come out and play just after the men had beaten New Zealand,” said the 23-year-old flanker. “It was the first time we were on Sky Sports as well, so we had amazing coverage and even ran out to flames. It picked up both teams and showed to us that we were massively on display.
“The series just shows how far we have come since the 2010 World Cup. Last year we had two wins and a draw, but this year we beat them 3-0.
“The score line in all three games I think flattered them. We could have easily beaten them by bigger margins.
“At Twickenham it was just free-flowing rugby from both sides and in the last 20 minutes it really kicked in to both teams just how much rugby we had played in eight days. The rugby on display was of an incredibly high standard in both attack and defence.”
As well as returning to work, Packer - who is sponsored by Yeovil Hire Company - will soon be back in the Yeovil College gym with strength and conditioning coach Andy Roda.
She said: “It is back to the normal routine and I was doing a boiler change with a gas engineer in Gloucester on Monday. It is back to reality and it keeps me grounded.
“I knew I had to get up at the start of the week and work. I will still be training up until Christmas and I have two more club games before the Six Nations next year but I am actually really looking forward to Christmas this year.
“For the past two years I have been on call with work but this year I am not. I am looking forward to my first Christmas party of the year and that will be with colleagues who have watched the games so I can’t wait to hear all of their comments.”