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Molly Gardener makes England Universities Women’s Rugby squad

Team Sunderland Elite Athlete Molly Gardener has been selected for England University Women’s Rugby 7s.

This is the third consecutive year that the Sport & Exercise Science student has earned the prestigious accolade as she will go on to represent England in the Home Nations – having already claimed silverware this season as she won the Melrose 7s with Shogun live on the BBC.

Already being familiar with the England setup, Gardener told SportsByte that this somewhat eases the pressure she feels within the camp – but admitted that she “definitely” still feels nerves.

Molly Gardener in action for Team Sunderland Women’s Rugby.

“(The pressure) used to weigh on me much more than it does now, because now I’ve done it several times rather than just the once I’ve got a better understanding of what it means which is that you can only really do your best on the day – and that changes depending on what training you’ve had and what games you’ve had previously.

“I think there is a pressure, it’s definitely there and there are definitely nerves – but I’m much better at seeing things now in retrospect as opposed to tunnel visioning on that one session.

“The hopes and ambition really is to be able to have a good runout in the Home Nations with the GB coach there selecting a team from England, Scotland and Wales to go and represent Great Britain 7s on the European Series in Hamburg. That’s the main goal, the long term goal is to be included in that squad but there are lots of things to focus on before that.”

Molly Gardener was part of invitational side Shogun that lifted the Mike Bleasdale Cup at the Melrose 7s.

Lifting the prestigious Mike Bleasdale Cup at the Melrose 7s with invitational side Shogun in April, this already nervy tournament was heightened even further as it was broadcast live to the BBC.

“We were all a little bit nervy because women’s rugby rarely gets that kind of coverage. Even the girls on the GB circuit don’t get that kind of coverage, we felt so privileged to get that as an invitational side – and to be able to watch that back on tele is really cool.

“It panned out really nicely on the day, we put all the plays that we had done in our training sessions on Thursday and Friday into use. It translated so well from the training onto the pitch, and I think that’s what really elevated our game.

“I was really pleased with my individual performance on the day. I was quite nervous because the team was full of international players as 7s specialists, but my confidence built from the training session and I was able to translate that onto the pitch. I had quite a few carries, I made my one-on-one tackles, and I was really pleased that I was able to get the job done and not slip up anywhere.”