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sport watch, sporting role models

Sasha Acheson, Bristol Ladies Rugby & England Women RFU

It’s been a big week for Sasha Acheson having been selected for the England women’s rugby squad for their Autumn International Series against France and Canada. Although it’s not the first time Acheson has played for England, having represented the nation in the under-20s previously. She’s also played for Saracens and Cardiff Met (UWIC) Women’s RFC. These days she’s busy impressing as loosehead prop with Bristol Ladies Rugby.Training hard, Acheson running pitch sprints

Acheson is a big supporter of rugby and also of women in sport. She’s kindly taken some time out of her busy rugby schedule to answer a few questions for us. Read on to find out how it was through skiing (!!) that Acheson first discovered her love of rugby. You may also be surprised to learn that her greatest sporting achievement wasn’t on the rugby pitch…

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your sporting achievements:

So…my name is Sasha Acheson. I was born in London. I turned 22 in August and I have a twin brother and an older sister. I am from a little village in the back of beyond in Suffolk originally but I am now at UWIC (Cardiff Met) studying business and management, with marketing.

I used to do athletics for a short period: 200m, 400m, discus and shot-put. I also did downhill slalom skiing with my dad, brother and sister when I was a lot younger. It was at the Suffolk Vikings Ski Centre in Ipswich that I saw the moment where Jason Robinson scored the try for England in the 2003 World Cup where he punched his fist in the air – and I got hooked on rugby for sure.

I played tag rugby in primary school, and contact rugby since I was 11. I did start off in the front row, but got moved to number 8 and stayed there for years! I then got asked to move back to front row, which I reluctantly did but now I absolutely love it – even though I’d tell my teammates I prefer the wing!

Raising money for Macmillans, one of greatest sporting achievementsOne of my biggest sporting achievements has to be cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again, back to back, 1748 miles, in 21 days. Me and my friend Poppy Cleall took to the challenge to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but one of the greatest things too.

In terms of rugby; winning at Twickenham with my university (UWIC) against Leeds Met was an amazing feeling. One of my best memories of rugby is also winning Newquay 7s this summer with the Moody Cows against Akuma Dragons. The Moody Cows are an invitational team that raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief. That was my first tournament playing for them – we all really came together in a big way in that final so that was a pretty special moment.

Q. Who are your sporting role models?

My sporting role models are Jason Robinson – I think he is incredible and I have actually read his book! I also love Cian Healey. And I have Muhammad Ali and Arnold Schwarzenegger motivational quotes everywhere so I guess they’d count as my role models too 🙂

Q. What would you say has contributed most to your success?

I think the support I have had from friends, family, and people I don’t even really know has contributed massively to where I’m at today. Also the rugby clubs that I have played for throughout my development have been incredible, and I’m very lucky to be involved with a Premiership club that I love to bits. Bristol has a fantastic atmosphere and really makes you feel part of a family. As a team we are all very close, and the coaching staff have been incredibly supportive and pushed me wherever they can.

Q. Was there ever a time when you almost gave up, and, if so, what made you keep going?

I think there’s a point in any person’s life who plays sport seriously where they consider chucking it all in, no matter how old they are. The thing is, I don’t actually know if there was a point where I actually would have stopped my development pathway. I’m quite bloody minded and there have been really tough moments where I have sat and had conversations with myself about where I want to go – but rugby has always been a really huge part of my life, ever since I can remember, so I could never just stop, or settle. I enjoy everything it brings too much to give up.

Q. Tell us your most embarrassing sporting story.

Goodness! Erm… my most embarrassing sporting story… well in the rugby world what goes on tour stays on tour so I think it’s best if I stick to that! haha

Q. What more do you think could be done to encourage girls and women to participate in sport?

I think growing awareness of women’s sport is doing a lot more in gaining female participation in sport. I think the more it is advertised and publicised, the more girls and women will get involved. They will see current females involved in sport, as well as how fun and life changing being involved in a sport can be. I think seeing others in sport will create an aspiration or desire for girls to be involved in sport themselves.

A big thank you to Sasha for sharing with us a bit about herself, her numerous sporting achievements – including inspiring charity work for Macmillan Cancer Relief – and her honesty about Arnie! We’re disappointed not to get the gossip about what goes on at tour, but we’re guessing it’s pretty fun times — well deserved too amongst all that hard work, on and off the pitch.

You can follow Sasha on Twitter: @sashbambam

And we hope you’ll #showup with us to support Sasha and the Bristol Ladies Rugby team by checking out our fixtures calendar.  Their next match is this Sunday, 20 October, at Portway Development Centre near Sea Mills train station in Bristol.

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