Jenny Hesketh Ready To Seek Win Against Scots For The Land Of Her Mothers

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:Bristol Bears' Jenny Hesketh in action during the Allianz Womens Prem15s match between Bristol Bears Women and Loughborough Lightning at Ashton Gate on February 23, 2024 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Jenny Hesketh Ready To Seek Win Against Scots For The Land Of Her Mothers

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By David Parsons

The two most successful women’s rugby nations have both helped to develop Jenny Hesketh into the player who will run out in the Wales 15 jersey against Scotland.

The former England Under 20s captain spent a year playing rugby in New Zealand, before returning to the roots of her Welsh mother in her international allegiance.

So, the Wales full back’s rugby development has been helped by the current World Cup holders and the number one ranked side.

It is also an example of the changing dynamic since the WRU went down the professional path for Wales Women, as in the past there have been plenty of Welsh players who opted for England’s professional system over the amateur path with Wales.

But the 21-year-old Bath University sports management and coaching student is happy to choose the red jersey over the Red Roses and can’t wait to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau at Cardiff Arms Park when Wales kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland.

“I started playing rugby when I was six years old in the Midlands in England and then worked my way through the English pathway, played for Loughborough Lightning in the Premiership and then moved to Bath Uni and Bristol Bears,” she explained.

“I captained England Under 20s, but what has made me sit here now is that my mum is Welsh and all of my family are Welsh so it is really cool to have the opportunity to represent my whole family in a different way to how I have before.

“It is also about the opportunities I have been presented with right now to work towards a professional contract and how the game is changing in Wales currently, it is an exciting thing to be part of.

“It all happened quite quickly, Ioan (Cunningham, Wales Women coach) was at Bristol before Christmas and we had chats from there, then I came in to the February camp for the Six Nations, so it was very exciting to be in talks with an international coach and getting that recognition.

“In women’s rugby now every team is so competitive, the Six Nations coming up is going to be the most competitive ever, so that is really exciting to be a part of and this was an avenue for me personally that gave me more opportunities.

“I graduate this summer so to possibly turn into a professional contracted player then changes the shape of my next few years and development into international rugby.”

Hesketh had a placement year in New Zealand as part of her university studies, working and playing rugby at the home of the Women’s Rugby World Cup champions.

“It was amazing, it was a big time for me to play rugby at a high level, playing with Black Ferns every week in my club side, but also live and find those things I have outside of rugby. That was really cool,” she said.

“They just express themselves, they want to give the ball to people to do what they are good at. It was nice to play club rugby where the attitude was to play to everyone’s strengths, and they could build from that through the season.”

Wales are the ultimate beneficiaries of Hesketh’s rugby development, but then so are all the family members from Barry, Penarth and Cardiff who have a short distance to watch their relative play international rugby in Cardiff this weekend.

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