Rugby means more to 14-year-old Georgia Tayler than it does for most others.
Having been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the age of nine, Georgia has battled through years of treatment and is now using rugby to help her recovery.
“I didn’t want to be treated differently”
After being diagnosed just after her ninth birthday, Georgia spent almost two years in a wheelchair while undergoing chemotherapy and as a result of her treatment she suffered a stroke affecting movement on the right side of her body.
“All through my treatment I enjoyed watching rugby but due to my condition never imagined that one day I would be able to play,” says Georgia.
“As soon as I started playing I loved it. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could do it, I wanted to defy stereotypes.”
“I couldn’t think of a life without rugby”
As soon as Georgia was told she was in remission she started to focus on getting fit, and soon decided to give rugby a try at Paignton RFC in Devon.
“To begin with I was nervous but the more I played the more confident I got. The support from everyone at the club as well as my teammates was brilliant.”
In her first season Georgia was made captain and was subsequently called up to the Devon County squad and while her improvement as a player means a lot to her, Georgia says rugby has helped more than just her fitness.
“It helped me so much with my confidence and self-esteem. I didn’t want to be treated differently and everyone was so welcoming.
“If it wasn’t for the support of the club and my teammates I wouldn’t be where I am now.
“From where I was I could never imagine being where I am today but now I couldn’t think of a life without rugby.”
“I’m so proud of her”
Georgia is now three years in remission and her progress on and off the pitch in that time has astonished those close to her.
“I’m really proud of her,” says Georgia’s mum Heidi. “There were parts of her life when I didn’t think she was going to live.
“Rugby is everything to her now, she has such a strong bond with her teammates. It is beyond words to describe how far she has come.”
And Georgia’s involvement at Paignton has also inspired others in her family to get involved with her sister now also playing while her mum Heidi is a team manager of the U15s.
But Georgia doesn’t consider herself a role model and is herself inspired by those at the top of the game.
“I am proud of how far I’ve come but I don’t want to think of myself as any different to my teammates.
“For me it’s really important to have role models like the Red Roses, I look up to them and they inspire me to want to continue playing.”