Deaf England Rugby Union star tells of challenges

A rising England rugby union star joined students at a Boston Spa specialist school to officially launch their newly refurbished Sixth Form.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 10:30 am
England Rugby Union star Jodie Ounsley is pictured with St John’s Sixth Form students, from left, Lily, Jack, Hollie, Sol, Macauley and Catherine.

Jodie Ounsley recently won her first full England cap and joined the young people from St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf at a special evening held to mark the opening.

The school and Sixth Form supports young people who are hearing impaired and is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

Jodie, who is deaf and who last year won the Young Deaf Sports Personality of the Year Award, spoke to the assembled audience of students, families and staff from the school about the challenges she had faced in playing rugby professionally, as well as the highs, and lows, of her career to date.

Kate Pirie, Head of PE at St John’s with Jodie Ounsley and St John’s Headteacher Ann Bradbury.

Headteacher Ann Bradbury said: “We were delighted to welcome Jodie to the school and her story is so inspiring for our students.

“She is a hugely inspiring young woman and her successes show that with hard work and determination, you can achieve your goals.

Students were full of questions for the Dewsbury teenager, who plays for England in the Women’s 7’s Elite Squad and has also played for the 15’s and 7’s England team at Under 18’s level. Jodie plays wing at 15’s and prop at 7s.

Questions included whether wearing a cochlear implant affects her ability to play, her best moment, worst injury and what her ambitions are for the future.

Jodie said: “I was told not to play contact sport because of my cochlear implant, but I wear a scrum cap, to protect it and it’s fine. I sometimes have problems hearing the whistle, but other than that, it’s fine.

“I’m the quietest and shiest person off the pitch, but on, I find an aggression and love the physicality of the sport.

“I’ve been so proud to have won Deaf Sports Personality of the Year and to achieve my first England cap.”

As well as performing the official opening of the Sixth Form, which has been completely refurbished at St John’s, Jodie also presented the school with a signed England shirt to display.

The head added: “The students loved meeting her and we can’t think of a more inspirational person to open our Sixth Form.

“The students certainly had lots of questions for Jodie and they were thrilled with her gift of a signed shirt.”