Former England Women’s Rugby Team Captain, Catherine Spencer, supports the BRIT Ambassador family
We are delighted that Catherine is part of our BRIT Ambassador family and championing the annual BRIT Challenge to support and improve young adult and student mental health and fitness throughout the UK.
Catherine was one of England’s most successful rugby players; she won six RBS Six Nations titles, captained England for three seasons and played in two World Cups. During her eight years playing for England between 2004 and 2011, Catherine amassed 63 caps.
“As a trainee teacher, and having worked with children and young adults for many years with the RFU and through my charity work, I am very aware of the increase in the number of young adults and students experiencing mental health challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had impacted on all our lives, however the situation remains particularly difficult for those young adults and students who have existing mental health challenges, are vulnerable, have limited mobility or who have been bereaved or experienced other trauma during this time. We must do all we can to ensure young adults and students receive support now, to look after their wellbeing, in order to avoid long-term effects on their mental health.
The British Inspiration Trust’s annual BRIT Challenge is an inspiring opportunity to unite students and young adults wherever they are (at home or on campus) and be part of a team. To enable as many students of all abilities to be able to participate, we need every UK university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union to enter teams and promote the opportunity for their students and staff to take part.
I am thrilled that Canterbury Christ Church University will be hosting the BRIT Regional Steering Group in the South East and inviting representatives from every university and college in the region to assist with promoting the BRIT Challenge, destigmatising mental health and championing equality, diversity and inclusion.
I urge my fellow retired and current England rugby players to join me as BRIT Ambassadors and champion the BRIT Challenge. By uniting as players, together we can encourage our chosen universities and colleges to take on the BRIT Challenge and support the mental health and fitness of students and young adults throughout the UK. It is a pleasure to continue to support Canterbury Christ Church University as they take on the annual BRIT Challenge. My best wishes to every student and staff member who takes part.”
Former England Women's Rugby Team Captain
Catherine started playing an early version of rugby at the age of five. The pitch was the landing at her home, the ball was a rolled up pair of hand knitted socks and her team-mate and opposition were her two brothers. After a failed attempt at ballet, Catherine gave rugby a go at Folkstone RFC. Her first England shirt is hanging on the clubhouse wall and one of her proudest achievements was being made the club’s first honorary life vice-president. She went on to play for Folkestone until she joined Bristol after the 2006 World Cup.
Catherine was educated at Folkstone School for Girls and between 1997 and 2000, completed her Bachelor of Arts (Joint Honours) in Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Wales, Cardiff.
In 2004, Catherine played in her debut match for England against Wales, when they won 53-3. Her 50th cap was in 2009 at Twickenham, when England defeated New Zealand.
As one of England’s most successful rugby players, Catherine won six RBS Six Nations titles, captained England for three seasons and led them to a narrow defeat of 13-10 to New Zealand in the 2010 World Cup Final. During her eight years playing for England between 2004 and 2011, Catherine amassed 63 caps.
Between 2010 and 2012, Catherine was a Women’s Regional Development Manager with the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW), covering the South West, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire.
In 2012, Catherine took on the role of Women’s Rugby Development Officer with the RFU, covering Essex, Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Her primary aim in both of these appointments was to increase participation in the Women and Girls Game through a range of playing and volunteering outlets.
Catherine was instrumental in ensuring that there was appropriate and regular opportunities to be involved with the game at all levels, there was a rise in school level activity and a positive shift from Tag Rugby for girls in secondary schools to forms of the contact game. In the South East, Catherine introduced the concept of Pitch up and Play which enabled girls of all ages to come together in one venue.
With 25 years of experience playing sport at all levels, including eight years of playing elite level competitive sport, Catherine significantly raised the profile of women’s rugby. Between 2014 and 2021, she inspired girls and women through her own company, Inspiring Women, that she founded to provide a platform for female speakers to share their inspiring stories with the business and corporate world.
Between 2016 and 2019, Catherine was Director of Women’s Rugby at Old Elthamians RFC, where she was responsible for the setup of a brand new women’s team.
Catherine was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Canterbury Christ Church University in 2018.
In 2019, Catherine published her autobiography, Mud, Maul, Mascara.
Catherine has supported the Tag Rugby Trust (TRT) since 2007 and is a Patron of the charity. TRT helps to grow communities around the world using Tag Rugby as a central vehicle for positive change. Catherine has volunteered in Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Mexico, India, Kenya and Zimbabwe, where she witnessed first-hand what a positive effect the charity has on people both young and old around the world and in the UK. She is also an Ambassador for the Shepway Sports Trust.
Catherine is currently training as a Secondary School Teacher at Brockhill Park Performing Arts College.
You can follow Catherine on Twitter.