Following the passing of former England player Linda Uttley this past week, our website designer Sarah Edwards, a friend and former teammate shares her thoughts with us of an inspirational figure. Linda won 13 England caps in a variety of positions and she left a huge impression on the game both on and off the pitch.
When I first joined Teddington, Linda was our player coach, I remember being slightly intimidated as I had experienced playing against Linda during my days at Quins and believe me it was far better knowing she was on my side!
I was soon to find out that Linda was at the heart of the Teddington Antlers club. Even at 39 she was still beating the bright young things in sprint training and running in tries from the second row.
She was patient and kind with players, providing me with many tips on jumping in the second row and also teaching me some interesting dance moves, accompanied ably by partner-in-crime Gale!
She gave her all to rugby, and when her terminal illness was diagnosed, I like to feel that rugby gave her something back.
The benefit event that was organised in her name last year pulled together key figures from the rugby community; people who had in some way felt touched by this wonderful lady that had came to the game of rugby all those years ago on the trusty advice of her hairdresser!
To me this illustrates the difference between rugby and other sports. Every week you lay your body on the line for your team mates and when one of them needs help, it is second nature to be at their side.
I'm now lucky enough to be captain of Teddington and I truly believe that Lindas spirit lives on in Bushy Park. Her number 4 shirt was hung in the changing room at Teddington last Sunday as proudly as she wore it before we went out to play.
Before the game there was no lengthy motivational speech, just the statement from our coach 'take a look at the number 4 shirt handing on the wall - you know what to do'.
Linda was larger than life and her legacy will live on at Teddington, in particular with the after-game port and the cups of tea she would invariably consume. She was an incredible influence on so many of our players and on the wider womens rugby community
I normally take more of a back seat with ScrumQueens.com providing the creative support and letting Ali loose with the writing, but on this occasion I wanted to share some of my memories about Linda and invite you all to do the same.
Rest in peace Linda.
I hope you have a really large glass of red wine right now and youre enjoying a lamb dinner of some description - you will be deeply missed.
Linda will be buried at St Marys Church in Barnes on Wednesday 9 December at 10am. The family have requested that instead of flowers, donations be sent to Princess Alice Hospice in Esher. Full funeral details to follow.
Linda Uttley, England womens rugby player, was born on 26th October, 1966. She died on November 27, 2009, aged 43.