Women's Rugby World Cup: England's winners 'back to work'

Marlie Packer
World Cup winner Marlie Packer will return to work later this week as a plumbing and heating engineer

England's victorious rugby union squad returned home from Paris on Monday after securing their first World Cup title in 20 years, but, for many of the players, it will be back to full-time work within days.

Among them is Marlie Packer, a plumbing and heating engineer who will swap her boots for overalls before the week is out.

"I've got two days hopefully to let this all sink in and then it's back to work," said the 24-year-old flanker. "I'll be heading back to London first and then down to Yeovil to see the family."

Some of England's World Cup winners and their "day jobs"
Katy Mclean (captain) - Primary school teacher, SunderlandMarlie Packer - Plumbing and heating engineer
Sarah Hunter (vice-captain) - RFU university rugby development officerMargaret Alphonsi - Athlete mentor manager for the Youth Sport Trust
Danielle Waterman - Unemployed (currently studying masters degree part-time)Kay Wilson - Sports development undergraduate, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Katherine Merchant - Personal trainerSophie Hemming - Veterinarian, Bristol

But at least the Wasps forward, capped 28 times by her country, will have a World Cup winner's medal on her CV alongside her day-to-day career following Sunday's 21-9 success over Canada.

"The boss emailed me on the morning of the final to wish me the best of luck, so they've been celebrating the success as much as I have," she added.

Packer's story is a familiar tale. The women's game is yet to turn professional or benefit from the boost in sponsorship and media profile experienced by the likes of women's cricket, netball and football.

Danielle Waterman
Danielle Waterman took the tough decision to quit full-time work before the World Cup

Danielle Waterman, playing in her third World Cup, quit her job as head of coaching on the apprenticeship scheme at Gloucestershire's Hartpury College in order to focus on the tournament in France.

"The support I've had from my family's been absolutely huge," said the 29-year-old full-back, daughter of Bath legend Jim Waterman.

"My mum's been there for me emotionally.

"I've had a real rollercoaster with injuries over the last four years and to have her here along with my dad, my brothers and my boyfriend has given me that extra boost to go out and play well.

"It was definitely worth it quitting work. As a team, we've been on a massive journey and this has been coming for a number of years."

Katy Mcean
Captain Katy Mclean (centre) will be back in the classroom teaching primary school pupils next month

Later this week, captain Katy Mclean will be back in the classroom preparing her primary school pupils at Bexhill Academy in Sunderland for a new school term.

The fly-half, 28, believes her side's win will do great things for the sport.

"I know when I get back to school, I'm going to have everyone in my class out there playing rugby," she said.

"There might be some reading and writing as well in between, but I think we can inspire the next generation.

"The support's been absolutely phenomenal. I've had messages during the tournament from children as young as three and five."

Vice-captain Sarah Hunter, a university development officer with the Rugby Football Union, admits being crowned a world champion makes the sacrifices of juggling full-time work with sport very worthwhile.

"We train harder than anyone, getting up when it's dark outside and people are tucked up in bed, then working late to fit in a session at lunchtime," she said.

"But there's absolutely no regrets about anything we do and moments like this make it all worth it."

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