The Red Roses speeder talks dad jokes, engineering and fancy-dress outfits


England wing Abby Dow

Tell us about your love of puns… 

It’s 100% my dad. He always used to do awful puns, then one day I punned back to him and he was shocked. Then whenever there was a topic we’d pun back and forth until someone couldn’t think of another one.

In England camp I probably get more groans than likes for my puns. The ones that annoy people the most are my favourites – a groan is a good pun.

You finished your mechanical engineering degree in 2020. Did any experiments ever go wrong? 

The best thing about Imperial is that they try to get you to fail so that you can learn. One thing we did was make a catapult as a team. We designed it – computer-aided design – then had to build every part ourselves to see how practical it was to manufacture. Ours was a complicated design! We were supposed to make it shoot perfectly at different ranges but we had to fudge it and just set it for one.

When it came to the competition the range was exactly what we had – a fluke – so we kept hitting bullseyes! We were saying, “Look how accurate we are”, but I’ve no idea how we did it.

Do you want to go into engineering post-rugby? 

I hope so – my mum will have a word if I don’t! The love I find in rugby is different to the love I felt in engineering. I do miss it. I’d quite like to be a design engineer on a consultant basis, so working through specifications with the customer, designing and building it, testing and manufacturing it for them. The whole project.

Who are the jokers in the Red Roses squad? 

There’s quite a range of humour. (Sarah) McKenna is quite a good joker; Meg Jones when she’s in the squad is very funny; Abbie Ward has her own sense of humour, quite sharp and to the point. Lydia Thompson has a lovely sense of humour; she’s incredibly funny.

Funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch? 

When Sadia (Kabeya) was playing for Wasps, she made an incredible cover tackle at Loughborough. She pulled the player’s pants down and there’s a photo of her face in the other player’s bum!

Maud (Muir) is also very funny on the pitch. She’s got a habit of tripping up; she’s not very assured with two feet on the ground!

Any phobias? 

I’m a mass murderer of spiders! They scare me so much. I can deal with any other bug but not spiders.

Most embarrassing moment? 

It’s very hard for me to get embarrassed. I do very embarrassing things but I’m like, ‘Meh, it was fun’. That’s just me.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

Lydia would be good, although it would be more she’s stuck with me than me stuck with her. Actually, it would be fun to be with someone who would squirm to be in a lift with me! I don’t think Poppy (Cleall) would know what to say to me. Or Midds (Simon Middleton).

Do you have any superstitions? 

I’m too sciencey for that.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

In Heroes, there was a guy who could stop space and time. You could teleport and reverse time.

If you could be one team-mate, who would it be? 

That’s a good question. Maybe Harriet Millar-Mills, although she is ginger! She’s a lovely human – we get on really well – and she seems to be loving life.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve ever bought? 

I’m quite practical; I don’t like to buy things unless I’ve done thorough research. One thing my sister got me for my birthday was a cat outfit – it was the best and worst thing I’d ever seen.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

I’d love to progress in my engineering career. And I’d like to get a dog – I’m definitely an animal person. My little black cat – he’s not that old yet – is called Toothless after the character in How To Train Your Dragon. For Halloween we got him a dragon outfit!

If your house was on fire, what’s the one item you would save? 

My childhood toy. It’s a big unicorn called Blue – my favourite toy ever. My mum said I’d get bored of it, so I made it my favourite to prove a point.

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests? 

I’d like to hear Brian Cox’s voice in real life. Would you take in information or just his voice? Stephen Fry. That’s probably too sciencey, so I should throw someone rogue in, like someone from Love Island.

How’d you like to be remembered?

I want to be seen as kind and annoying at the same time, with groany dad jokes. And for giving it my all.

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s January 2022 edition.

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