This is the final part of a six-part series on the evolution of Leicester Tigers Women from Year 1 to Year 2 as they prepare for their first season in Premiership Women's Rugby. This is the writing of a new history.
"It’s alright, I’m used to not being included."
Terri Denham, the Medical and Physiotherapy Lead for the women's programme, is having another moan.
Leicester Tigers had officially wrapped up the Championship North 1 title and a graphic celebrating the achievement was on the big screen at Mattioli Woods Welford Road and shared across social media. The graphic included every player who had represented the team in their maiden year together as well as the coaches who had helped them on their journey to the title.
However, the graphic did not contain every single person involved. Although the players may catch the headlines with their exploits on the field, coaches are quoted in previews and team news articles, those behind the scenes don’t often get the public appreciation they deserve.
This article, the final part of our analysis on the evolution of a team entering its second year of existence, aims to readdress that balance and help spotlight the team behind the team.
"This is so many months of worth of work right here, this one run."
It's the first week of pre-season and the team are conducting sprints. Pathway winger Lottie Bozon is lining up for sprint test, her first time running in the near five months post-operation following extensive rehabilitation from a full-grade ACL and meniscus tear.
"I had tried to keep playing but it was Terri who spotted me struggling and said she wanted to assess me, believing the injury to be more serious than what had initially been suggested, an idea I heavily resisted," said Bozon.
“She was amazing; her pushing me to get that early scan made all the difference in my recovery.
She provided tonnes of pre-hab so that prior to my operation it was as strong as could be. I saw her the day I came out of hospital and, again, she gave me so much to work on and was always checking in with me. The first time I ran on it, we were both like cats who had got the cream.
“I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to properly run ever again. Being able to do so again was just awesome."
Denham joined the Tigers from Lichfield Rugby Club, where she was a physio after featuring as a player.
The Championship set-up meant certain compromises and one of those was that she could only help out on a part-time basis.
In the time she was able to give the team was limited and meant, in the time she did have, was having to prioritise those most in need and could not give full coverage across the entire squad.
That’s now all changed with Denham now full-time in the role as part of the women's programme, allowing her to maintain a consistent presence during the week and on matchdays.
Additionally, Denham is assisted by Luke Pollard, Sophie Ormerod and Meg Seagrave during the week, ensuring that a growing squad, with almost 50 players, has full physio coverage.
Students and aspiring performance staff members have been a key aspect of the growth of the backroom staff, offering vital assistance across all areas including Strength & Conditioning, Medical and Analysis.
In the gym, young coaches Craig West, Alex Cobb and Mitch Cook, also AOC Strength and Conditioning lead at Brooksby College, are assisting in monitoring performance and serving as excellent motivators to help players reach new heights while, in the analysis department, Raf Sheehan has assisted in helping to break down training and games for the coaches.
Last year saw analysis of opposition footage from Vicky Macqueen and Steve Hanna but the introduction of Head of Analysis Kingsley Morgans and Sheehan to the set-up has seen this area improve to far more comprehensive coverage.
Morgans was brought in to identify not only where the team can improve and optimise patterns of play but to also analyse the opposition and how to tweak the game plan in order to compete ahead of the team’s first Premiership season.
“His super strength is no matter what the task, no matter how vague or hurridly you ask, Kinglsey always delivers,” said Hudson, when asked about Morgans.
“He’s embracing the changes that we are bringing here and is a massive part of driving that."
Tying all these departments together is Team Manager Jasmine Hare.
Jas, as she's known, joined the team last year and has been instrumental in picking up the finer details between the playing, coaching and performance departments.
Hare is in constant communication with the players on all manner of issues, a verifiable ‘one size fits all’ of information, able to field questions on registration forms and league regulations all the way to player tie designs for appearance milestones.
Her work is predominantly alongside Head of Women’s Rugby Vicky Macqueen, who was effusive in her praise of the team manager.
“Jas has been integral. She goes above and beyond expectations to support the team and staff, which is no mean feat in a team that is always pushing beyond expectations," said Macqueen.
"She’s a vital cog in the machine and, personally, a great sounding board for ideas, one who reigns me in when necessary and lets me loose when necessary. We have a brilliant working relationship, one that makes my job easier and, honestly, more enjoyable."
Finally, the one group that hasn't been mentioned throughout this whole article is you, the supporters.
In many ways, you are the team that allows everyone here the opportunity to work with this team. It's those of you who buy season tickets, who turn up to support on weekends, sponsor our players and the programme, to ensure the club can provide the best possible support for Leicester Tigers.
To you, on behalf of all the players, coaches and Team Behind The Team, thank you.
Chapter Two in the history of the Leicester Tigers Women’s team, the 23/24 campaign, promises to be a historic one.