Twenty years after representing her country in Rugby League, Donna Rodgers, Organisational Development and Learning Manager at Teesside University, celebrated her achievements as she received her cap.
Donna was part of the Great Britain Women’s Rugby League team that toured Australia in 2002, playing three test matches and all of the friendlies.
At this month’s Pride of the Lionesses event, which honoured the women who had made ‘outstanding contributions’ to Rugby League, she finally received her cap in recognition of her sporting achievements.
Donna, from Redcar, said: “I feel immensely proud to have played for Great Britain and had the opportunity to tour Australia. It was such an amazing and fulfilling experience, and the Pride of the Lionesses project has been amazing in bringing all that back for me.
“I remember being disappointed back then that I had no trophy or medal to show I had played at international level. To finally be receiving a cap and heritage number that recognises my achievement and that of my fellow players over the years is just brilliant.
“It felt fantastic to be part of history at this event and to catch up with so many female players as we celebrated together. The crowd was amazing and certainly made us all feel special.”
The awards presentation took place at Headingley Stadium in Leeds earlier this month and included a lap of honour at half-time of the England vs Papua New Guinea match in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup.
Donna was able to reflect on her experiences within the sport thanks to the event, adding: “We toured Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. It was an intense four-week trip that consisted of training, numerous matches and some socialising.
“My experience was both daunting – as I had never been abroad when I toured Australia – and rewarding. It was an amazing opportunity to not only represent my country in a sport I loved, along so many talented women, but to experience the sport in another culture.”
Donna’s rugby journey began at 13 when she started playing for Hull Vixens. She went on to play for Hull Dockers, East Hull and Yorkshire. The talented youngster was also included in the 1996 Great Britain training team at just 17 years old.
She added: “My rugby career has set me up for life. While I don’t play anymore due to past injury, the principles I have learned along the way – the determination, dedication and attitude to succeed – set me up in my career in learning and development, which I love.”