Corporal Louise Dodd was on hand to share her military and sporting wisdom as participants from Premiership Rugby’s Project Rugby programme were invited to take part in Exercise Rugby Challenge last week.
Exercise Rugby Challenge is an engagement initiative developed by the Army and Premiership Rugby, designed to promote diversity and address under-representation and harness rugby as a vehicle to improve attitudes, skills and life prospects.
The exercise combines both rugby training delivered by Premiership Rugby Club coaches interspersed with army-led activities, ranging from leadership and military awareness to healthy living advice.
Corporal Dodd, who works as a nurse at Frimley Park hospital alongside playing rugby for the Combined Services and Wasps Ladies, was in attendance as 50 Project Rugby participants between the ages of 14-16 took part in the three-day residential at MOD Kineton in the Midlands.
And the 25-year-old Corporal was delighted to share her experiences to the group, explaining how a career in the Army can go hand-in-hand with sporting success.
“We want to highlight the sporting opportunities available in the Army before it’s too late,” said Dodd.
“When I was their age, I had no idea there would be opportunities in the Army available to me – I didn’t realise until I joined up.
“The young people who attended the session have probably never thought about joining the Army, so we are here to encourage them to take their first step if they want.
“There are so many opportunities for sport in the Army and rugby, in particular, helps with communication, teamwork and dealing with conflict.
“Rugby can help teach you how to deal with something that isn’t going your way, which is something you may not learn properly in other sports like football.
“The referee is always right, whether or not you believe with them. Rugby teaches you to remain calm in stressful situations. It also teaches you how to get rid of your stress and anger. It can help young people develop so many important life skills.”
Dodd, who plays as an inside centre for Wasps Ladies, joined the army reserves while she was studying nursing at the University of Southampton and has since been capped twice by the Combined Services team.
Looking back, she believes it was the best decision she has ever made.
“There are so many benefits to playing rugby in the Army. You get paid to play sport, you receive all the free stash and you get to bond with a select Army team,” added Dodd.
“Training and playing with a Premiership team is one thing, but few people get to pull on that red Army rugby shirt.
“Being selected for Combined Services was one of the highlights of my career but I’ve also played at Premier 15s level with Wasps and had other fantastic experiences like participating in a training camp with the Wasps’ men’s side.
“I want to help make young people aware of all the brilliant opportunities available to them.”
For more information on Project Rugby and to find a session near you, visit www.projectrugby.co.uk