England lock Abbie Ward helped Bristol Bears to a 48-5 win over Sale Sharks in their opening Premiership Women’s Rugby game; she scored just 13 minutes into the match which was played four months after the birth of her first child
Last Updated: 18/11/23 2:58pm
Abbie Ward scored a fairytale try for Bristol Bears against Sale Sharks just 17 weeks on from giving birth.
The England second-row became a mum in July when she gave birth to her first child Hallie – who she carried to the pitch before Saturday’s Premiership Women’s Rugby opener.
And she marked the occasion with a try after just 13 minutes, dotting down a simple finish as Bristol breezed to a 48-5 victory at Ashton Gate.
Ward was named in the starting XV for the Bears, who are coached by her husband Dave, who insisted this week she would only be picked if they both felt she had “earned” her spot.
After confirming her place on the teamsheet he said: “If it wasn’t my wife I probably wouldn’t make a big deal of it but Abbie’s been incredible, I get to see it first-hand. There’s no pressure on her, just go out and play and enjoy it.
“She hasn’t played rugby for a year. We’ve watched a lot of rugby in that year so now just go and play.”
Ward, who has been capped 61 times by England, made her most recent appearance for the Red Roses in last year’s Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand and is the first contracted member of the team to have a child since they went professional in 2019.
Speaking to Sky Sports in March, the 30-year-old spoke about how she wanted to show other athletes it is possible to balance their careers in their chosen sporting discipline with motherhood should they so choose to.
“It’s definitely been up until now that players would wait until the end of their careers before having children or cutting their careers short,” Ward said.
“I wanted to let people know, I am still training, still very much a Bristol Bear and a Red Rose, it’s going to be hard but a very exciting time ahead.
“It’s about showing that it’s an option now, but not putting other athletes under pressure. If people choose to end their career and go down another route, then that’s also important.
“I don’t want to put pressure on other sportswomen to say you have to get back. I’m obviously putting pressure on myself, and I know it’s going to be very difficult, but I know there is that support structure around for me and everyone is so excited.”