Alice charges towards success with Bradford Bulls!
After playing Rugby League for the RAF and UK Armed Forces (UKAF) for the last 10 years, I wanted to give myself a challenge and see whether I could take my experience on the pitch to the next level.
During the off-season in 2019 it became apparent that the Bradford Bulls were one of the few Women’s Super League Teams on the lookout for new players for the upcoming Betfred’s Women’s Super League Competition.
This was a perfect opportunity to see whether I had what it takes to earn myself a place within a Super League Squad. Two years prior to this I missed out on trials for both Leeds Rhino’s and Castleford Tigers due to injury and deployments, so I seized the chance when it presented itself!
I contacted one of the joint head coaches back in November 2019, and before I knew it, the trials were upon me! On arrival at Bradford Bulls Training Ground I was greeted by players who I already knew from taking part in Rugby League competitions within the RAF and UKAF teams. This made the trial experience a whole lot easier as there were a fair few familiar faces trying out alongside me, which helped put me at ease.
The first trial I took part in consisted of general fitness training, multiple ball handling drills and a generic getting to know other players which helped the coaches see how well each individual player would integrate if they were successfully selected for the final 2020 squad. A few days later, I took part in a second trial, which consisted of a full contact 13 v 13 game. Again, this was to see how well players adapted to playing with the current Bradford Bulls players and to give us a chance to ‘show off’ our experience.
A few days later, I received the phone call to confirm I had successfully made it through to the Pre-selection Training Squad, I was informed that I was invited to train with Bulls team up until the Christmas break! I trained with the team twice a week for 2 hours and found that my fitness levels overall competitiveness helped me stand apart from the other players throughout the trial sessions.
Christmas came around quickly and I had done all I could to try and secure a place in the squad. I just had to wait for the 2020 Squad to be announced and finalised. On 2nd January I received a phone call to inform me that I had successfully earned myself a place on the Bradford Bulls Women’s Super League Team for 2020.
I began training with them twice a week and our first two games of the season were in March, where we played a friendly against new opponents of the Super League, the Warrington Wolves, followed by a Memorial Cup game against the local rivalries the Featherstone Rovers – another newcomer to the Super League for 2020.
The 2020 Women’s Super League season should’ve officially started at the end of March, but due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, all training and participation ceased.
Although the team couldn’t get together and compete in normal training sessions, the coaches provided team training each week via Zoom calls. Every Wednesday throughout the lockdown period the team would get together over a Zoom call and complete a 45 minute circuit. They also set us multiple fitness challenges which encouraged all players to get out and keep active whilst not being able to train together. It will come as no surprise that the challenges saw all players competing with each other to be the best!
The team got the go ahead to go back to training at the end of June and social distancing measures were put firmly in place to ensure all team members stayed safe. We have now returned to two training sessions a week and have been thrown straight back into fitness training and, of course, fitness testing!
At this time, we are unsure whether the season for 2020 will still go ahead. it may either take place on a much smaller scale or not at all! We’ll have to wait and see and until then, we’ll keep training!
Cpl Alice Kelly