Wales rugby captain’s University inspiration
26 March 2018
The captain of the Wales women’s rugby sevens team at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games had never touched a rugby ball until she studied at Cardiff University.
Philippa Tuttiett (BA 2005) decided to try rugby union after attending a sports freshers’ fair, but without any thought for where it might take her.
The former communications student has since enjoyed a rugby career at the highest level, and now has her sights firmly set on the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia where women’s seven-a-side rugby makes its debut.
Philippa said: “I’m incredibly chuffed. To hear you are selected is one thing but to be told you’re captain, then wow!
“I remember going to Cardiff University and going to the sports freshers’ fair and I was in heaven because of the number of things you could do.
“I was picking up all these flyers, then I saw the women’s rugby. I thought ‘why not, I’ll sign up’.
“It was the next day I think they had the first training, so my mum took me to buy my first kit and I rocked up at training with creases on the shoulders, but I absolutely loved it!”
Her time at Cardiff University was a happy one and Philippa said she appreciated the opportunities available and the support she received, including a bursary which was a “massive help”.
Her rugby skills blossomed and after leaving Cardiff University she went on to represent teams including Cardiff Blues, Bristol Ladies and the Wales national side before retiring from the 15-a-side game to concentrate on seven-a-side rugby.
Her days can be punishing, combining a rigorous training regime with running her own construction business, Female Building and Interiors, which she set up in 2007.
Somehow Philippa has also found time to present DIY programmes on national TV, provide punditry for televised rugby internationals and mentor disadvantaged young people.
But the focus is now on sevens rugby with a massive few weeks ahead for Philippa and her teammates, who include fellow Cardiff University alumna Elinor Snowsil (PGCE 2014).
Philippa said: “Elinor is a real tactician, a very experienced rugby player in both sevens and fifteens - she’s such an asset to our team. No matter how tough it gets, you know she’s going to stay calm and make the right decision. A real leader on the field.”
Before heading to Australia for the Commonwealth Games, the Wales team will play a series of crucial HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series qualifying matches in Hong Kong in early April – with the winner promoted to the prestigious world series.
“It’s going to be an incredibly busy two weeks for us,” said Philippa.
“The qualifiers in Hong Kong are the weekend before the Commonwealth Games and to qualify for the world series would change the face of women’s rugby in Wales.
“We then head to the Commonwealth Games where we’re playing the hosts Australia in our first game, which has already sold out.”
And you can guarantee that Philippa will enjoy every minute of it.
“What I love about sevens is the smaller squads - you really get to bond as a team,” she said. “You have to support one another and challenge one another and I love that environment.”
The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games run from 4-15 April 2018, with the women’s rugby sevens taking place from 13-15 April.