Gnr Amy Carr (RA) believes wearing the Red Shirt is “the biggest achievement ever” as she gets set for the upcoming Inter-Services Championship.
The 19-year-old centre made her Army debut in the 24-10 victory against the RAF at Gloucester’s Kingsholm last year, before helping her side to a brilliant 68-0 success in her first clash with the Navy at HQ.
The talented teenager cannot wait for this year’s action, and she reflected on her previous experience saying: “Walking to Twickenham you could hear the roars and it was mad, but when you get into the changing rooms it’s just another game and you have to get your head switched on.
“You’ve got your team behind you and everyone’s going through that experience – but the older ones know how to boost you up because they’ve been in that environment.
“When we walked onto the pitch for our warm-up, we couldn’t hear anyone because of how loud the crowd was and it did make me a bit nervous, but Beth Dainton and captain Jade Mullen both said you won’t hear it when you’re playing. They help settle your mind.
“Sarah Mitchelson, Jade, Beth, are such an inspiration and being able to play with them – or even training with them, learning from their knowledge – is amazing. They are just so good.”
Image – Alligin Photoggraphy © Cat Goryn
She continued: “Any Inter-Services, whether you’re on the pitch or off it as spectators, is amazing.
“But being able to wear a Red Shirt is the biggest achievement ever and I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”
Born and raised on a farm in Northumberland with two siblings, Amy took up rugby at an early age at Morpeth RFC and explained: “My twin brother played and I always used to go and watch his matches, and I thought ‘I just need to get involved.’
“After playing mixed rugby I joined the girls’ section and at Morpeth we’re all a big community –everybody goes out with each other and it’s a big family. I loved the club for that so when I joined the Army, I knew I wanted to keep on going with the rugby.”
Revealing her reasons for joining in October 2021, she added: “I was 16 when I signed up and my first Army game was the weekend after my 18th birthday – I was quite young!
“I was going through school and doing GCSEs when Covid hit, and I wasn’t the best academically. One of the girls I went to school with joined up and said it was great – you get your qualifications and just give it a go and if you don’t like it, at least you’ve tried.
“I gave it a go, loved it, and I’m still here.”
Standing 1m 69 and weighing 74kgs, Amy packs a punch in midfield and believes her upbringing has played a part, both physically and mentally.
She said: “When we were younger, we used to roll hay bales out and while it’s not fitness in some senses, it will get you strong and it does build your muscles.
“Being out on the farm and doing jobs was good and everyone says I’m mature for my age, but it’s always been me – an older person at heart!”
Gnr Carr is part of the 26 Regiment Royal Artillery based at Larkhill, Wiltshire, and said the decision to try and join the unit was a simple one, stating: “One of my mate’s dads was in the artillery and it always used to be ‘oh, the Gunners this, the Gunners that’ and again I thought, ‘just give it a go’.
“You can always trade out, but I never will.
“At the moment my battery is overseas, and I’ll be flying out after the RAF game.”
Image – Alligin Photography © Army v RAF Match
Amy was quick to praise her Chain of Command in helping her balance work and sport, having also picked up four UK Armed Forces caps during a tournament in New Zealand.
She continued: “I couldn’t play Red Shirts without my COC’s backing – they’ve kept me here to play rugby against the RAF and then fly me back for the Navy match.
“The Artillery are so supportive – they love it and if there is an Army game they understand and they love having a representative.
“You don’t get these opportunities very often and they also sent me straight away for UKAF – it was insane, and I can never thank them enough for letting me do this.
“I don’t think it really sunk in what I was doing while I was there, but when I got off the plane back and everyone was asking how it was, I was like ‘Oh my god, I’ve just been to New Zealand with the Armed Forces.
“It was amazing, insane, mad.”
On the flip-side of the coin, Gnr Carr also believes the opportunity to develop her rugby has also made a big impact on her day-to-day job, revealing: “I definitely think the sport has helped my integration into the Army. I wouldn’t say I’m confident yet, but I’m progressing – people say that at work, and it helps in leadership.
“Having to be loud on the pitch and shout where the space is helps me in work because I can then say: ‘I’ve got this idea or could we try this?’ because I’m not as nervous to speak up if I think I know something.
“My CoC make a few jokes about how I’ve found a voice.”
She continued: “I wouldn’t say I joined the Army for the sport, but then in Phase Two when I got recognised for rugby then it progressed from there and it was a bonus.
“You can’t complain when you do the job you love and then you get the sport you love on top, you’re a winner.”
Image – Alligin Photography © Army v Navy Match
And Amy will look to add a second Inter-Services Championship to her impressive early-career resume when the Army collide with the RAF on Saturday, April 15th and then the Navy on Saturday, May 13th, while also looking forward to what she believes is a bright future for Army women’s rugby.
She said: “Anything can happen and it’s anyone’s game. We’ll go in, play to our gameplan and stick to what we know.
“We trust our team managers, our coaching team and we go into Inter-Services ready for a fight.
“When the senior players don’t want to play anymore, we know there’s enough of us coming through to continue the legacy. There are now always people coming through, trialling, and it’s so competitive for the Red Shirt which is good to see.”
Tickets for the 2023 Inter-Services Championship are now on sale.
CLICK HERE for information about the Army v RAF at Kingsholm, Gloucester, on Saturday, April 15th.
CLICK HERE for information about Army Navy at Twickenham on Saturday, May 13th.
Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks
Header and featured image – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn