The Valkyries’ fantastic four

Earlier this week, four Valkyries were selected for the England Under 20s side which will tour Canada this summer. Here, we take an in depth look at each player.

Cara Brincat (Sponsored by Councillor Richard Udall)

Cara is originally from Newbury and represented Berkshire, the South West and the England Under 18s Sevens side before joining Valkyries when she came to the University of Worcester to study Sports Science.

A versatile forward, she can feature anywhere in the back five of the scrum, with flanker her preferred position.

Cara’s development across the 2017/18 season was outstanding. She forced her way into the England Under 20s squad courtesy of some excellent performances in the Tyrrells Premier 15s and played against the Army and in the historic first away win against France.

Valkyries Director of Rugby Roy Davies said: “It was a good season for Cara last time out and she probably ended the season ahead of where she expected.

“She’s become a key cog for us and, to have handled the pressure of calling a lineout at Premiership level at such a young age, is a testament to her character. I’m sure she’ll benefit greatly from the Canada experience and use that to kick on again next season.”

Follow Cara on Twitter by clicking here or on Instagram by clicking here.

Akina Gondwe (Available to sponsor for the 2018/19 season)

Nineteen-year-old Akina is originally from Forest Hill in South East London and began playing at Beckenham Rugby Club.

Having represented her club and county as an inside centre, Akina has had a remarkable rise in the last 18 months since switching to loosehead prop, becoming a valued part of the Valkyries squad and making 14 appearances in the Tyrrells Premiership last season.

A geography student, the forward joined the Valkyries as part of the partnership with the University of Worcester and has really enjoyed being at the club.

She said: “The environment is second to none. The team has been very welcoming to all the young players and we continue to grow as a family.”

Director of Rugby Davies added: “Akina has done exceptionally well this season. To learn a new position at the top level, particularly one that is acknowledged as one of the toughest on the field, was always going to be tough but Akina has thrived and put in some excellent performances.”

Follow Akina on Twitter by clicking here or on Instagram by clicking here.

Vicky Laflin (Available to sponsor for the 2018/19 season)

Vicky, still 18, gets the call-up for Canada on the back of some strong end-of-season performances last time out, having missed out on selection for the fixtures against the Army and France due to a combination of illness and injury.

Another who came through the Berkshire county programme, Laflin also featured in the successful Under 18s Sevens tournament in Vichy last summer and will be hoping to use the experience to her advantage in Canada.

Laflin studies Sport Science at the University of Worcester and believes the partnership with Valkyries has been vital in supporting her development.

She said: “I especially like the university due to the atmosphere. There is a strong relationship between the university and Valkyries, which makes life much easier in terms of managing my training and playing load as well as allowing me to pursue a long-term career alongside my rugby goals.”

Follow Vicky on Twitter by clicking here or on Instagram by clicking here.

Charlie Wilcock (Available to sponsor for the 2018/19 season)

The oldest of the four call-ups, 20-year-old Charlie is in her second season of international selection and was vice-captain of the Under 20s side in the March Tests against France.

Having started playing at Fleetwood RFC at eight-years-old, Charlie has her sights fully set on senior international honours with the ultimate goal of playing for England at a World Cup.

Charlie, who joined Valkyries at the start of last season, said: “The atmosphere at the Club is great. Every player and every coach gets involved in every way possible to help each other or to bring the energy up in training.

“Not only are they my teammates and coaches, but they are a family and I know we all have each other’s backs on and off the pitch.”

Follow Charlie on Twitter by clicking here or on Instagram by clicking here.

Valkyries boss Davies is delighted with the call-ups. He said: “It’s really pleasing to have four players going to Canada. I actually believe we may have had a couple more selected had it not been for injuries and unavailability.

“All four players have come into the Club over the last year and adapted really well to Premiership rugby so I would expect them to do the same when they pull on the England shirt.

“It is also great to see Roisin McBrien being called-up to the England Women U18 Sevens squad for the second leg of the Home Nations U18 Sevens. It is a fantastic achievement and I wish her the best of luck.

“We always want to be a Club that gives young players opportunities to grow and develop and the tour selection is further validation of that.”

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