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Thursday Apr 11, 2024

New rugby documentary alters perceptions as it breaks social barriers

A hard-hitting documentary starring England international rugby player Abbie Ward is set to hit the screens, with an inquisitive look at the prospects of combining a professional sporting life with the challenges of childbirth.

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Describing the need to be “fearless“, Abbie takes us on a journey that will forever change perceptions about what is possible for a professional athlete.

What is the documentary about?

The brand new behind-the-scenes documentary looks at the life of Abbie Ward as it follows the talented rugby player through the rigours and challenges of everyday life, showing in a rarely seen before light – the barriers that women can face in sport.

‘Abbie Ward. A Bump in the Road’ chronicles the remarkable journey of the England rugby player as she battles her way back to the professional game just 17 weeks after the birth of her baby in July 2023.

Adding an extra layer of intrigue, the ultimate decision-maker for her return to play at Bristol Bears is the women’s head coach, Dave Ward . . . who is also Abbie’s husband.

The beautiful film showcases the remarkable spirit of a mother driven by an extraordinary dream: to inspire her daughter and leave an enduring legacy in sport. The film also tackles long-held myths that prevent many women from remaining active during and after their pregnancies.

Who is Abbie Ward?

Abbie’s rugby journey began with touch rugby at just 10 years old, igniting a passion that would carry her through the ranks. Her talent swiftly caught attention, leading her to join the England squad that claimed victory in the U20 Nations Cup in 2011. A pivotal moment came in 2014 when she ventured to Canada to play for the Strathcona Druids, marking a significant chapter in her development.

Breaking barriers, Abbie made history as the first former Sedbergh School girl to don the England jersey at the senior level, making her mark with a try in her debut start against Italy in 2015. Her ascent continued, earning her a vital role in the 2017 World Cup squad, where she played a crucial role in the final showdown against New Zealand.

Consistency became her hallmark as she featured prominently in England’s campaign at the 2018 Six Nations, followed by securing a full-time contract in 2019. That year proved monumental as she contributed to England’s triumph in the Six Nations Grand Slam, a feat she further solidified by leading the squad as captain in the Super Series clash against the USA.

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Continuing to leave her imprint on the international stage, Abbie’s presence was felt in the autumn internationals of 2021, and she played an instrumental role in securing victory in the 2022 Six Nations. Her dedication was unwavering, even amid personal milestones, as she balanced motherhood with her passion for rugby, returning after maternity leave for the 2024 Six Nations.

With an impressive tally of 62 caps for her country, Abbie stands poised for the ultimate challenge – the Rugby World Cup 2025 on home soil. As she sets her sights on glory, her journey exemplifies resilience, skill, and a steadfast commitment to the game she loves.

Who’s said what?

Director Sue Anstiss MBE, a renowned women’s sport campaigner, author and podcaster:

“It’s fantastic that we’re now seeing elite female athletes combining their sporting careers with motherhood – especially in sports like tennis, athletics and cycling. But it’s rarer to see this for sportswomen competing in team sports. The demanding nature of rugby, with its physical contact and impact, makes it all the more remarkable that Abbie would try to return to the sport professionally, so soon after she’d had her baby.”

“I believe this film will transcend the world of sport, resonating with audiences everywhere, especially with women who face the societal challenge of balancing careers with motherhood.”

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Abbie Ward:

“What’s most important to me is that my story can serve as an example for sportswomen in the future. I hope I can be a test case to show what’s possible for female athletes when they have great support around them during and after pregnancy.
The world of women’s sport is changing rapidly, and enabling professional athletes to keep competing as mothers is another important milestone.”

Where can I watch it?

The documentary will be available on ITVX and RPTV (Rugby Pass TV).

When can I watch it?

Friday 12th April from 8am.

Watch the trailer here.

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