Sarah ‘Huddy’ Mitchelson celebrates a remarkable achievement as she makes her 175th appearance for Wasps as they host Saracens this weekend.
Fittingly, Huddy’s first game for Wasps, back in 2008, was against Saracens at Twyford Avenue. She joined a squad flush with some of the best players in the country; Shelley Rae, Sue Day, Natalie Binstead and Jo McGilchrist were just some of the names pulling on the black and gold when she first started her career at Wasps.
“It was very competitive and we would do a full contact session, 1’s v 2’s, last thing on a Thursday, no prisoners taken. This is where I learned the true passion of what it was to be a Wasp, and what ‘Once a Wasp, always a Wasp’ means.”
The former club captain started her rugby career in her home town of Oakham and was involved in a number of England U18 camps. However, at 20 years of age in 2003 she was deployed to Iraq when war was declared. “My job was not as exciting as it sounds. Though I had a loaded weapon, it was never needed.”
Since joining the army Huddy has been heavily involved with the women’s rugby team, earning 34 caps and being made captain and vice-captain for six years – “I am now an assistant coach and excited to develop this team even further.”
While at Wasps in 2013, Huddy became a mother to daughter Poppy. “I thought being deployed and playing big games against the likes of Richmond and Saracens was hard; nothing compares to the graft of being a mum. I was determined to play again, not just for my own sanity, but I wanted Poppy to know who I truly was, and I believe rugby, especially playing at Wasps, defines me.”
“Returning to rugby and back into full-time employment is an exceptional struggle. I had to drop training at the club down to just one night a week due to childcare, but I am fortunate that I can train every day at work, in fact its an order the majority of the time.”
“I was lucky enough to be based in London for a long time allowing me to dedicate more of my time to the club whilst I was captain. The club also supports me with Poppy. When she comes to watch there is always someone on hand, all brushed up on their princess knowledge, to watch her and she loves being part of it.”
“All I ever wanted was her to be proud of me, and I think I’ve achieved that.”
Huddy has since moved away from London but remains committed to the club, admitting she could never play for another team. She believes that the future for the women’s game and Wasps as a club is looking bright;
“Women’s rugby has grown and grown, becoming more recognisable, I am honoured to have been part of it for so long. Wasps, more importantly, has grown as a club from the roots up, but they have never forgotten where they have come from. I see a very bright future for Wasps with all the support we now receive. Every shirt is fought for, and there will be even more competition as we move forward.”
“I cannot thank enough the support the club receives, and more importantly, the support I receive from my sponsors ‘Yes Mortgage Ltd’. And of course, my friends and family who are forever my most reliable support, not only for childcare, but my motivation.”