|Weight||89kg (14st 0lb)|
A late starter in the game at the age of 21, Claire Purdy has clearly made up for lost time and led the Red Roses to a 46-8 win over South Africa in the Nations Cup match at Appleby College, Ontario in early August 2011. Three months later she was vice captain when the side beat the Black Ferns 21-7 at Esher.
She had emerged swiftly through the England Students, Academy and A team structures and has captained the A side in addition to Wasps, her only club, where she was players’ player of the year in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
Claire toured South Africa with the England Development squad in 2003 and played for the full England party in Canada in the Nations Cup – something she would not have imagined when studying at Southcote Middle School, Ash Manor Secondary School and Farnham Sixth Form College.
Higher education took her to University College, Chichester where she obtained a BA (Hons) in Sport Studies and she now works as an underwriter for Zurich Municipal in Farnborough. She has also represented Surrey and West Sussex U21 at stoolball, a game reputed to have its origins in Sussex in the fifteenth century and believed to be an ancestor of cricket, baseball and rounders. Traditionally, it was played by milkmaids, who used their milking stools as a wicket with a batsman defending the shoulder high target with a bat shaped like a frying pan.
Just like many of her England squad mates, Claire regards the 10-3 win over New Zealand at Twickenham in November 2009 as one of her career highlights so far, along with the 2010 World Cup final at Twickenham Stoop and being vice captain in a pool match against Kazakhstan.
Her mentors have been Nicky Ponsford, a former coach at Wasps and fellow club prop Ness Huxford and her present one is Graham Smith, the England Women’s forwards coach. Her favourite venues are Twickenham Stoop and Loftus Versfeld. Claire’s father was an international canoeist, representing Great Britain and England in the C2 slalom and white water.
Claire’s proudest qualities include her versatility. She said: “I gained my first cap in 2005 as a hooker and have since earned others at loose head and tight head prop, becoming the first England Women’s player to do so.”
Last updated: February 05, 2013