Bdr Bethan Dainton (RA) says that her experience with the Barbarians has left a lasting impact which will stay with her for life.
Although she did not add to her tally of Wales caps, the 32-year-old nevertheless signed off the Autumn Internationals on the biggest stage of them all, in front of a world record crowd for a women’s rugby match at Twickenham with the Barbarians.
In doing so Bdr Dainton became the first Army Woman to wear the black and white hoops, and was one of nine different nationalities among the match day 23. The Barbarians is renowned as much for adding life experience as much as rugby experience, and the women’s team was no different, according to the back rower.
“It was so enjoyable to meet so many people from different countries,” she said. “As well as learning off them, their little tricks and so on, it was just an honour to be there. It was an incredible week with incredible people that I’ll never forget.
“Then when we rocked up to Twickenham and were told that we were the main event I stood on the pitch and was overwhelmed. But it was for the best that it happened so quickly because we didn’t have too much time to think about it.
“There was no pressure on us and we could play how we wanted to play. If you wanted to do silly plays you could do it and get away with it.
“It was also important to be equal with the men. We got treated the same as them and it was a fantastic environment to be in.”
Image © Neil Kennedy
After a week back at Harlequins in the Premier 15s there was more representative rugby to come for Bdr Dainton as one of the experienced fulcrums of the Army Women’s team which beat the British Police in Aldershot.
The emotion of being back in red was clear after the final whistle.
“It means everything,” she said. “It’s always an honour to pull on the shirt with this badge. We’ve had nearly two years out so to get back with the girls before the new year was fantastic.
“There were some areas as a team that we can work on, but overall it was enjoyable.”
Image © Lee Crabb
Bdr Dainton led from the front, encouraging her inexperienced colleagues around her and breaking the contest wide open with a long-range try which was the match’s standout moment.
The win bodes well for 2022, as well, she says.
“The development players stepped up to the mark and I thought they were fantastic. We want strength in depth in the squad and the win over the Police showed we’re developing that.
“I want to pass on things that I’ve learned and to help others along the way. I’ve been in that position and a lot of people put their arm around me and helped me, and I want to do the same myself.
“I can’t wait for the next part of the season!”
Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks. Header and Featured Images © Neil Kennedy