Wales star breaks down in tears in interview as she reveals she nearly walked away from rugby 12 months ago
Welsh scrum-half Ffion Lewis proudly wears her heart on her sleeve and isn’t afraid to show her true emotions. Just watch her score a try or win celebrations to find out.
But with the highs come the lows, and 25-year-old full-time professional Lewis – who quit her job as a Welsh and physical education teacher in January to pursue her rugby dream – couldn’t avoid becoming emotional when she looked back. last year when she considered walking away from the sport she has loved since she was six years old.
Ahead of Wales’ Six Nations clash with England on Saturday, Lewis reflected on her last day as a teacher in January before becoming a full-time professional Wales player and how she got emotional reflecting on how she almost gave up rugby this time. Last year. She was recovering from shoulder surgery and had fallen out of favor with Wales managers, but has now become a key player who holds a strong presence in the Wales squad.
On her last day of teaching at Bishop Hedley Secondary School in Merthyr Tydfil in early 2022, she said: “Because of not being selected for the 2021 Six Nations I was in a position where I didn’t know where I was going to take my rugby, honestly I didn’t know if I was going to keep playing I was in a tough spot where I was knocked down a lot and told I wasn’t wasn’t good enough. do I want to keep going through this mentally?”
Thankfully the scrum-half, who starts against England as Wales seek a third straight win on Saturday, was brought back from the international wilderness by new head coach Ioan Cunningham last fall and has impressed so much that she secured a full-time WRU contract, with her school allowing her to take a 12-month sabbatical. So far this tournament she has made two strong appearances from the bench to help Wales earn two bonus points from two, and scored the winning try in the 76th minute against Scotland last time out.
Even though she’s come this far in just 12 months, Lewis, 19, is passionate about opening up her journey to try and inspire others not to give up on their dreams, and the tears weren’t far away as she said so at a press conference. conference after Wales announced their squad to face the Red Roses.
“I think it’s important to feel comfortable showing your emotions,” she said. “It gives an understanding and a true reflection of your journey. I can’t deny, and I want to be open and transparent, that it has truly been a difficult journey.
“I’ve been in and out of the program since I was 16/17 and I’m 25 now. Last year was really tough. Rugby is something I never knew my life without. life. I’ve been playing since I was six. I’ve kind of planned my life around this badge, whether it’s my studies or my career choices. I’ve always chosen my life around what I can to be who is going to put me in the best position to play for my country and play well for my country.
“So last year when I was in a position where I was without that, I really thought about where do I take this next journey of my life? I felt that rugby and playing for the Country of Wales launched my identity.”
The Worcester Warriors half-back turned up for Wales in rugby league and captained the side, a move she credits rebuilding her confidence, before returning to the union Welsh six months ago.
“To be able now to call this my job, it’s been a whirlwind. It’s been so overwhelming. From Wales to Scotland, seeing my former students now in the crowd, calling my name, calling me always Miss Lewis, saying they want to grow up and play rugby and play like me, they want to have matches at school… that’s what’s gratifying for me, knowing that I have young girls who want to play and who are so passionate. can look back and inspire little girls to keep picking up that ball. It really makes this tough time worth it.
The Haverfordwest-born international will be supported by her family this weekend, including her bodybuilding champion brother Flex, as she lines up against the world’s number one ranked team on her first start this campaign.
“Incredible to start with, but whatever number is on my back, whether it’s No. 9 or 21, I just want to be in the best possible position to play for my country,” she said.
She did just that against the Scots, running on whitewash after an offload from Alisha Butchers, who made a superb break through in defense. “I feel pretty guilty that I got all the credit – Alisha did all the hard work, I just had to run and finish it for her!” Lewis laughs. “Scoring for your country is an honour.”
Regarding this weekend’s grudge game against a side who have been professional for three years versus four months for Wales, Lewis said: “For any Welshman, the game against England is huge. “is a huge test. A lot of us play with the girls in England, we know their strengths, we know their weaknesses. We want to test ourselves against the best team in the world, they have a solid pack, fast players in their defence, a kicking threat, but also We have to be confident in the performance of our group, how dynamic and fit we are as a backline and how dangerous we can be.
“We have to focus on getting off to a good start, something we haven’t done in the last two games. We have to make sure that we focus from the first minute to the 80. I think the score will take care of himself if we stick to our roles and make sure we execute them successfully.”