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WO2 Sarah Mitchelson (RLC) has today been announced as the new Head Coach of the Army Women’s Senior team.

WO2 Mitchelson is following in the footsteps of Maj Gemma Stonebridge-Smith (AGC (ETS)), who decided to step down after the 2022 Inter-Services Championship win to focus on her Army career and family.

Mitchelson had a formidable playing career in which she was awarded over 200 caps for Wasps, 34 caps for the Army and 15 CS/UKAF caps as well as captaining both military squads for a number of seasons. She began her coaching journey whilst still playing top-flight rugby with Wasps. In 2016, she was appointed to both the UKAF and Army Women’s coaching teams in an assistant coach role and has remained as part of both coaching setups since. She is also coaching Kenilworth as part of the Wasps coaching development team. Selected to train as an RFU Level 3 coach, she completed her qualification in 2020 – one of a handful of female coaches to hold the qualification.

Image © Army Rugby Union

WO2 Mitchelson says that she is honoured to have been given the responsibility of leading the red shirts in 2022/23 and beyond.

“It is an honour to take up the position as Head Coach,” she says. “I’m looking forward to carrying on from the success from last year and continue to build on all the tremendous work Gemma did over the last few seasons.

“It’s not a decision I have taken lightly, as I wanted to make sure I could give the role the diligence the squad deserve.

“However, I couldn’t be happier to have progressed, and I now have the opportunity to give back everything Army Rugby has given me.”

Director of Women’s Rugby, Lt Col Charlie Maxwell, says that WO2 Mitchelson has all the credentials to be a success in the role.

“Sarah was an outstanding candidate to be Head Coach, and I’m delighted to be appointing her into the role,” she added. “There were some excellent coaches who put themselves forward for consideration for the role and it’s exciting how the squad is now perceived within the ARU. However, Sarah’s experience playing and coaching at the top level of the game, combined with her personal coaching philosophy and understanding of the Army Women’s culture, made her the right choice. I have every confidence that she will make an outstanding Head Coach.

“On behalf of the Army Rugby Union I would like to thank Gemma for the hard work and dedication that she has given over the years, initially as a player and then as Head Coach. She knew that we needed change and she was not afraid to deliver it. We are in a much stronger position now as a squad and it is down to her hard work and strength of character. She fully deserves time to focus on her Army career and her family and, for now, we look forward to seeing her cheer the team on from the stands!”

The 2022/23 draft fixture list includes matches against domestic, international and Premier 15s opposition before the 2023 Inter-Services rivalry resumes against the Royal Air Force at Kingsholm and the Royal Navy at Twickenham.

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks

Header Image © Army v Navy Match – Alligin Photography

Featured Image © Army v RAF Match – Alligin Photography