Get to know one of the new generation of Wales Women’s players

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Wales Women back-row Alex Callender

Date of birth 29 July 2000 Born Carmarthen Region Scarlets Country Wales Position Back-row

How did you get involved in rugby?

Two years ago a few girls from school told me to come down to a training session at my local club, Llanelli Warriors. It involved a contact session and I absolutely loved it.

Did you play any sports before that?

I’d been involved in netball, playing for my county and Wales U21. It was difficult to do the training for both, so I decided to carry on with rugby. I like the physicality.

Did you have an interest in rugby before?

My parents are big rugby fans, but I was always more interested in netball. Then as soon as I went to training, I wanted to learn more about the game.

What positions have you played?

I was put at centre to start with, then No 8. Now seven is my favourite. I like jackling, chop tackling, running support lines…

Who are the players you admire?

Rachel Taylor. She plays the same position and isn’t just a role model with rugby but with her coaching. It makes me want to do things like that.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

I’d say my mum. She’s been like a taxi driver and comes to all my games to support me – both my parents do. The little things she does help me with my rugby.

Are you surprised how quickly you’ve risen to Test rugby?

Definitely. I went to a trial for Scarlets U18, not expecting anything to come of it, then we won the regional competition and I got called up by Wales Sevens. That helped skills-wise and with fitness.

From there I’ve gone on to the autumn Tests and the Six Nations. It’s flown.

How are Wales doing?

We had a massive win against Ireland and are heading in the right direction. We’ll go into the autumn campaign confident.

You play for Worcester in the Premier 15s too…

I enjoy it. It’s so competitive and you’re challenged every week with internationals playing in different teams.

What are your goals for next season?

To be selected for the autumn squad and, fingers crossed, for the Six Nations. I’m going to keep working hard and keep playing the rugby that I love.

What do you do away from rugby?

I’m studying sport and PE at Cardiff Met University. It’s busy! In the Six Nations, in chill time I was doing uni work. I play for them too.

RW VERDICT: One of several promising teenagers in the Welsh set-up, Callender already has a handful of caps. She’s an all-action back-rower and her work ethic should make her a regular for her country in coming seasons.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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