Welsh rugby coach who captained Wales at World Cup given honorary degree
A rugby player who is one of the most decorated and respected women in the world of rugby has today been awarded an Honorary Degree at Bangor University.
Rachel Taylor won 67 caps playing for Wales has led Wales’ national team and has become one of the most highly regarded women coaches in world rugby.
As a rugby union player Rachel first represented Wales in the Six Nations against Canada in 2007. She played in three World Cups and was made captain of the national team in 2012. She also captained the women’s Barbarians team.
Rachel is now the performance coach for Sale Sharks Rugby Club and has co-founded a Rugby Academy, Rygbi 7/11, that delivers quality coaching experiences focused on enhancing the current pathway for female athletes into elite environments.
Receiving her Honorary Degree, Rachel Taylor said: “It’s been a real privilege to come here for an honorary degree, more so to experience and be part of the celebration with everybody else receiving their degrees today.
“It has been a really difficult past couple of years, and to be part of this sort of giant celebration means an awful lot to me and my family.”
Born in Bangor and growing up in Llandudno, Rachel was immersed in the sport having a father who was a rugby coach and an older brother who played for a local team.
She played rugby from the age of five and, although she took part in a variety of sports growing up – hockey, netball and athletics, she always returned to rugby.
Having joined Colwyn Bay RFC as an eight-year-old, Rachel progressed to become the first female coach of a national league Welsh rugby team when she returned to the division two side in 2018.
Rachel broke more ground in 2020 when she took on the role of National Skills Coach, becoming Women Rugby Union’s first professional national female coach in the process.
Rachel is the only player to have captained both 7’s and 15’s Welsh international sides and played for every region.
Rachel has always been involved with encouraging women’s rugby at a grassroots level having delivered coaching sessions to schools and clubs as well as coaching North Wales regional boys’ teams and the line-out for Rygbi Gogledd Cymru – North Wales Rugby.
Presenting Rachel for the honour, Professor Nicky Callow, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Human Sciences said: “As a player, captain, coach and member of Women’s Rugby Union, Rachel has championed Wales and women in rugby throughout her career and her sporting achievements are outstanding.”
Rachel joined three years’ of Medical Sciences and Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences students who were finally able to officially graduate from their university during an unprecedented three weeks of graduation ceremonies at Bangor University.
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