Marlie Packer: England snub and red card hearing act as reality check
A disciplinary hearing and omission from the England squad have allowed Yeovil rugby ace Marlie Packer to take a significant reality check.
The Bristol flanker who rose to prominence with Ivel Barbarians failed to make the 23-woman squad for the November 3 test against France as coaches cast their eyes over fresh blood and players returning from injury.
On Tuesday Packer was called before a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing at the Bristol Filton Holiday Inn following her dismissal for dissent against Worcester last month.
The 23-year-old - who discovered she would not face the French on her birthday last week - was charged with acts contrary to good sportsmanship and had already served a one-match ban enforced by her club before the hearing.
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Packer admitted recent developments had made her realise her standing in the game and vowed to channel her remorse and disappointment into becoming a better player.
“It is a massive reality check,” said the former Buckler’s Mead Academy and Yeovil College student. “I was red carded the other week and then not selected for the England squad, so it has brought it all home.
“It shows you are not handed anything on a plate and you have got to work hard for everything in the game. As for the dissent on the pitch, I have learnt that sometimes you have just got to keep your mouth shut and walk away.
“To be honest, I am very embarrassed and I apologised to the referee afterwards. Media reports afterwards have made me realise what a big deal it was and has made me realise that I am not just an England player, I am one of the faces of women’s rugby.
“What happened is not an image I want to portray as neither a person nor player.
“It has all grounded me and made me appreciate I have got to keep working hard. You can be playing really well but there are other things and reactions that can impact on that.
“I was banned for a game by Bristol after the red card and I have learned from that and realise it cannot happen again.”
Packer also accepted not being included in Gary Street’s international squad, adding she would train harder to make sure she returned to the England fray as soon as possible.
She said: “The coaches have told me they need to see other players and the two players that have come in – Heather Fisher and Jane Leonard – have been injured. Jane was the player who I replaced in the Nations Cup about a year and a half ago to earn my second cap.
“Heather broke her back and only played sevens all last year so this is her come back. I was obviously gutted but it makes me want to train harder for when I do get that opportunity again.
“I obviously spoke to the coaches when the squad was announced and they said it was nothing to do with my form. It is very hard to accept but I have got to battle on.
“At a training camp we underwent all kinds of testing and I improved in a number of areas, so that will have been noted.
“When I actually called the coaches they said my performances on and off the pitch had been good and that had been noted, which is good.”