Worcester Valkyries have strengthened their squad ahead of the new season as six internationals have committed to Roy Davies’ side.
Twenty-six-year-old winger Lydia Thompson, a double tryscorer in the 2017 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand, returns to the Club after a spell with the England 7s programme.
Thompson, who will be sponsored by SW&A Accountants this season, brings a huge amount of top level experience to the young Valkyries squad.
She said: “I’m really excited to play at Worcester this season and to be on the pitch with some incredibly talented up-and-coming players.
“I have so many happy memories at Worcester and owe the Club a lot for where I have got to with my rugby career.
“I remember turning up when I was 18-years-old and being inspired by the likes of Kat Merchant, Nolli Waterman, Rochelle Clarke, Donna Kennedy and Karen Jones to name a few.
“I learnt a lot from them on and off the field and am incredibly grateful for the time they took in helping me develop.
“I hope I can continue with their work by helping the younger players at the start of their Premiership rugby journeys.”
England tighthead prop Laura Keates also returns to the fold this season, having missed the entirety of last season through an injury picked up during her country’s World Cup preparations.
Keates, who will be sponsored by Data Privacy Advisory Service, has 56 caps for her country and says she is looking forward to the challenges the upcoming TP15s season will bring.
She said: “I’m really excited about the season ahead and playing for the first time in the Tyrrell’s Premiership.
“Women’s rugby is changing and getting more coverage and support so we have a real opportunity this season to show our talent.”
Scrum-half Brooke Bradley, 19, has joined the Club from Bristol Bears, where she played under Valkyries boss Davies.
Bradley, who is still available to sponsor, is originally from Exmouth in Devon and joins as part of the Valkyries’ partnership with the University of Worcester, where she will study alongside her playing commitments.
She is currently a member of the England Under 20s set-up and will fly out to Canada on Sunday for a three-Test series along with four other members of the Valkyries squad.
She said: “Two things brought me to Worcester – the strong relationship between the university and the Valkyries, which will allow me to play Premiership rugby and pursue a degree in Sport Science, as well as having previously being coached by Roy.
“I had no doubt about the high level of coaching and opportunities that being here would create, and the quality and energy at training in my first few weeks means I am excited ahead of the season.
Former Valkyrie Stacey Maguire will also return to the Club following a season at Lichfield. Maguire, who previously represented England Under 20s as well as being selected in the EPS, plays as a lock and will be sponsored by ELM Group.
Davies said: “Stacey is a quality Premiership operator and will add some vital nous in our pack. She has an excellent game understanding and will be a huge asset to us going forward.
“When I first came to the Club and reviewed the previous season’s footage, Stacey really stood out to me so I’m delighted to have her back.”
Former Club captain, and former New Zealand rugby league international, Lisa Campbell, is another to return this season after a season off due to her work commitments.
Campbell, a powerful back-rower, is English qualified and keen to get her first taste of TP15s action. She is still available to sponsor for the forthcoming season.
Davies continued: “Lisa is a real character with bags of leadership experience and she has really impressed me in all our conversations so far.
“She has a couple of injuries we need to get her over, but just having her around is a huge boost for us and I’m sure as she gets herself back to match fitness we will see her quality shine through on the pitch.”
Finally, Scotland international Hatty Cumber has also joined the Club. The 23-year-old centre joins from Kenilworth, having also represented Warwickshire last season. She is still available to sponsor.
Davies added: “If I’m really honest, the opportunity to sign Hatty came out of the blue. She’s had a couple of years out of elite rugby but she contacted us and asked for a trial and we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far.
“She’ll be a quality addition to our squad and hopefully we can help her return to international rugby.” Hatty is available to sponsor for the 18/19 season.