Georgie Lingham’s pace saw her make a huge impact at Saracens.

West Norfolk’s GEORGIE LINGHAM is one step away from becoming an England international, as Gavin Caney discovers

Tell us about your family’s connection to rugby.

My grandad Charles Curtis played for West Norfolk and was chairman for three years. 

My two uncles, Charlie and Gareth Curtis, and step dad Marc Foremen played for West Norfolk too. 

I remember going up to the club a lot from the age of 13 onwards and watching the rugby. It felt like home, everyone was family. I still go up the club now and people are so supportive of me and congratulating me on my achievements. 

I meet my friends up there after rugby games and social events. My sister Rosie takes her son up the club and he loves it playing with the other children while games are being played or, when Rosie is playing for West Ladies, my mother Hayley takes him up the club to watch. 

I’m hoping to get my nephew into rugby to start the next generation.

What was your first game for West Norfolk Ladies like? 

It was when I truly started to realise how much rugby was for me. 

Having my team-mates supporting me in a way I have never experienced before in sport was amazing. Playing with my friends and my sisters at a ground that I have seen many a game played in the past was phenomenal.

Being supported and congratulated once the game had finished by my family, and especially my grandad, was unbelievable.

Did you play football, rather than rugby, at a young age because of a lack of opportunities with the latter?

I played football from the age of six. I was a goalkeeper and then a striker because I was quick and had a lucky shot. 

I still enjoy playing football socially and watching the ladies in the World Cup. I always enjoyed watching rugby but never really thought about playing it because I wasn’t aware of any ladies playing in the area. 

How excited were you when Teresa Dunn set up a ladies team at Wests in 2016?

It was the opportunity I’d always been hoping for and I instantly loved the whole culture of playing for one another.

Did it take long for you to realise you were pretty talented?

I didn’t really know just how quick I actually was until I had people chasing to tackle me.

My coach Teresa and my team-mates said I was quick, talented and that I could go further playing for professional sides if I wanted to.

A lot of other people also said go for it, which gave me the confidence to approach Premiership teams the following season.

Playing for West Norfolk helped you earn a call-up to the Eastern Counties select side. How big was the step up in standard?

There was definitely a noticeable step. I feel the main difference was the professional nature of the game at Eastern Counties because the ladies that were selected were all talented players from their local clubs. 

I would encourage anyone to trial for Eastern Counties as it provides more opportunities to improve your game and pushes you to achieve your potential.

Talk us through how your chance to impress Saracens came about.

I was playing at a London Sevens tournament in June 2017 and was watching Saracens play in the elite division of the competition.

I decided to approach the coach and ask if there were any trials coming up and he told me to come to training on the Tuesday as pre-season was starting. It took me a while to become part of the team. However, I just continued to go to every training session and got selected to join them for a friendly in France that September. 

From then I got selected to play with the first team in their first Premiership game of the season, which is where my journey really began. 

How proud were you to land the England Academy call-up that eventually followed and did it come as a surprise?

I had a good start to the season by becoming one of the top three try scorers in the Premiership. 

My coach had a chat with me and said I’d been asked to be part of the England Academy, which was just unreal and so exciting because it is just a step away from playing for the full England side. 

My family and friends were so proud and supportive of me. I felt on top of the world and I’m striving to feel like that again.

Away from playing, you also coach the u13s and u15s girls sides at West Norfolk. What do you get from that role?

Sarah Hodgson and I started coaching the sides two seasons ago. It’s been great to start a girls team to give them the opportunity to get into this great sport early on in their lives. I was never given that chance at their age and feel that they will now have more opportunities open to them to progress. 

I want to inspire and show them that you can get where you want in any sport but it takes commitment, dedication, team work and choices.

What does the rest of 2019 and the future hold for you?

This summer I was invited to the England Sevens training camp but unfortunately, while playing in Amsterdam for an elite sevens team, I broke my collar bone. I’m now recovering and will be back at pre-season training at the end of this month with Saracens. 

I hope this season will hold more opportunities for me. I plan on coming into it all guns blazing with Saracens and am hoping to get back into England Sevens selection again.

Georgie and team-mates celebrate trophy success for Saracens.

Name: Georgie Lingham

Date of birth: 20/08/1995

Birth place: King’s Lynn

Grew up in: Hockwold and Lynn

Secondary school: Springwood

Higher education: COWA

Current club: Saracens Women

Former club:
West Norfolk Ladies

Sporting hero:
Maggie Alphonsi

Twitter: @georgie_lingham

Instagram: @georgielingham

  • When she was 10, the rugby star wanted to be a builder, laying bricks and building houses.
  • Lingham was awarded the Saracens and Tyrrells Premier 15s try of the season awards in 2018/19 for her stunning solo effort against Richmond.
  • She travelled and worked in New Zealand for a year when she was 18 years old.
  • It takes the winger two hours to get to training, which she attends twice a week. She leaves at 5pm for the sessions and gets home at midnight.
  • Georgie’s grandad is her trusty chauffeur for home games.

Quickfire questions

Restaurant or takeaway?

Night in or night out?

Bath or shower?

Tea or coffee? Both, tea then coffee in morning 

Sweet or savoury? 

Summer or winter? 

Day or night? 

Cinema or theatre?

Favourite food: Mother’s homemade lasagne 

Least favourite: None

Favourite TV programme: Grey’s Anatomy

Least favourite: None

Favourite band/musician: Libertines, Adele, Beyonce, Jamie T 

Least favourite: None

Favourite film: Devil Wears Prada

Least favourite: None

Answers in italics