JODIE OUNSLEY has described being part of the England team that won the inaugural World Deaf Rugby 7s Championships as a “fantastic” experience.
The Dewsbury-born athlete was the youngest player at the tournament, and was even granted special permission to play.
Rugby Football Union rules mean that players must be aged 18 in order to play senior rugby, however the 17-year-old received approval from the governing body to make the trip down under.
The England Women’s Deaf Rugby Union side won all of their games at the tournament held in Sydney.
They defeated the hosts, Australia, 22-10 in the final to claim the first-ever World Deaf 7s title.
“Beating the hosts, Australia, was fantastic. They are always very competitive and play to win,” said Jodie.
“The tournament was played in a great spirit and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
“Celebrating becoming world champions with my team mates was a real highlight.
“I was the youngest player by some years, I was granted approval to play and the other players were really great with me.
“They made me feel at ease and I learnt so much from being around experienced players.”
The Deaf 7s title was the latest in a long line of success stories for the 17-year-old from Thornhill.
Jodie was born prematurely and the antibiotics used to treat her caused profound deafness in both ears.
The young rugby star was fitted with a cochlear implant shortly after her first birthday.
The 17-year-old currently attends Loughborough College, as part of a high performance sports training programme.
And just 24 hours before flying to Australia for the World Deaf 7s, Jodie made her first appearance for England Under-18s.
The England youth side faced Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in a friendly game.
England lost 26-20 but Jodie was able to mark her first appearance with a try.
She said: “I was little nervous in the build up to the game, as this is the national team and it is very competitive.
“I was given the honour of playing in their national stadium (Wales), it was an incredible experience which I’ll never forget.
“I even scored a try, which is a bonus. I hope to play there again in the future.
“I want a career playing rugby at the highest level for England and also 7s at the Olympics, I’m learning and improving all the time.”