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Sophie Hemming


Key Facts

Height1.7m (5'7")
Weight81kg (12st 10lb)


Sophie combines her England duties with a full-time job as a veterinarian at the Avenue Veterinary Centre in Staple Hill in Bristol where wrestling with calves and rescuing stranded cows stands her in good physical stead for playing rugby.

“There are similarities between stuff like that and rucking and mauling,” she once said. “My strength training pays off in certain situations at work and vice-versa. One of my qualities is that I’ve got very good reactions and when you’re near horses and cattle you need to be pretty quick on your toes to get out of the way of a flying foot.”

Sophie’s work has led her to be late for the occasional training session but her excuses for such tardiness are sometimes so bizarre that they simply have to be believed. She was once late after being harnessed up and winched down a river bank to help a cow out of a river.

Prop Sophie first played rugby at Bristol University. Before that, her and her sister were experts at rowing. “I was fed up of following in her footsteps so I wanted to try something different,” she said. She soon developed her rugby career to be good enough to be named as the Bristol Ladies captain.

She drives from Bristol to Bath University, one of the England Institute of Sport Centres, three times a week before work for training sessions on top of her club commitments. It’s all worked out pretty well with Sophie becoming a Grand Slam winner with England in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012. She was named as the Bristol Ladies and the England Coaches’ Player of the Season in 2011. She has also won the Linda Uttley Award, one which recognises the commitment and dedication of an individual.

If her work and rugby don’t fill enough of her time, Sophie also enjoys mountain biking, climbing and squash although she has yet to try all three at the same time.

Emily Ryall, one of her first coaches, has been a real inspiration and was the person who persuaded Sophie not to retire from the sport she loves in spite of breaking a leg. You can imagine her still fitting in all of her extraordinary skills in spite of such a thing.

Last updated:  March 18, 2014

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