World Cup-winning duo Lydia Thompson and Laura Keates have extended their stay with Warriors Women as Director of Rugby Jo Yapp shapes her side for the return of Tyrrells Premier 15s action.
Thompson and Keates have been cornerstones of the Warriors Women squad for more than ten years, with the pair possessing bags of experience on the world stage having represented England during World Cup and Six Nations campaigns.
Wing Thompson, 28, who is closing in on her 50th Red Roses cap, joined Warriors Women aged 16 and has played a key role for both club and country.
“I have decided to stay at Warriors Women as I feel it’s the best place for me to grow and develop,” said Thompson.
“The club is very supportive, the team feels like a family and the coaches are creating an ambitious and talented team.
“I’m really enjoying seeing the team grow and I’m excited to see what performances we can produce when we get back on the field.”
Inspired by the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, Thompson added: “That tournament really inspired me to push myself and I started to apply myself to rugby training and worked on my fitness.
“I never would have thought I’d make the 2014 World Cup squad.”
Meanwhile, experienced prop Keates adds a wealth of expertise to the pack having racked up 60 caps for England during which time she lifted the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup following a 21-19 victory over Canada in Paris.
“I’ve been at Worcester Warriors for over ten seasons and we’ve had numerous ups and downs over the years from fighting relegation to winning the Premiership title,” said Keates.
“The environment and culture that has been created within the women’s set-up at Sixways is such a positive one and there’s a real buzz around the place in terms of what we can achieve as a group.
“I can’t wait to get back to training when it is safe to do so and hopefully, we can have a successful season.”
Lethal finisher Thompson scored a hat-trick on her international debut against Spain in the 2012 European Cup and followed this up with a brace against Samoa in England’s opening pool game of the 2014 World Cup in France before injury curtailed her tournament.
Lightning pace and a hunger to score tries, the Stourbridge-born flyer crossed for England’s final try of the 2017 Six Nations to help clinch the Grand Slam.
Her try-scoring form continued at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup where she crossed five times in four games, including a marque moment against New Zealand when she left a flurry of Black Fern defenders in her wake on route to the try line.
It was eye-catching displays like this that earned Thompson a nomination for World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year. Making the switch to sevens where she won a bronze medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Thompson returned to XV’s for the Quilter autumn internationals and dotted down for an impressive hat-trick against Ireland at Twickenham in front of the Sky cameras.
The following year, Thompson featured in all of England’s matches at the 2019 Super Series in San Diego and a few months later she scored a last gasp winning try in England’s Quilter International win over France at Sandy Park. After being side-lined through injury, Thompson returned to the England starting line-up for their Six Nations win over Wales at the Twickenham Stoop earlier this year and will undoubtedly be itching to pull on the Warriors jersey when rugby makes a welcome return.
Bahrain-born Keates cut her rugby playing teeth at Greyhound RFC and Herford Wyeside before joining Warriors Women in 2005 where she soon earned international honours with England at under-19 and under-20 level.
Making her full international debut in 2011, Keates scored for England on her birthday in their opening pool match of the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which set the tone for a memorable tournament. Her final England try came against Ireland in the Grand Slam-winning campaign of 2017, and last summer she represented the Barbarians against England at Twickenham.
A proud moment for the Bishop of Hereford’s Bluecoat School pupil, Keates is determined to help Warriors Women achieve their ambitions when the new Tyrrells Premier 15s season gets underway.
Warriors Women Director of Rugby Jo Yapp said: “We are so pleased that both Lydia and Laura will be joining us again next season. Both players and their families are so passionate about Worcester and having players with such a wealth of experience at both club and country, will be so important for us as we continue to develop and grow as a team.”