Stephen Perse Foundation teacher Vicki Franks earns call-up to England Touch Rugby World Cup squad
If Vicki Franks does her sums right, then by May a double sporting glory could have come her way.
The 36-year-old Cambridge City Hockey Club player is hoping to help them earn promotion to the top tier of the Investec Women’s Hockey League, and at the same time is preparing for the Touch Rugby World Cup in Malaysia.
Franks impressed coaches and selectors playing for the Midlands representative side at the touch rugby nationals in August, and has been named in the 16-player Women’s 27s England squad for the tournament in the Far East from April 28.
It was through hockey that Franks’ route to the Touch Rugby World Cup took shape.
“It always used to be that I would put down my hockey stick for the summer and get hideously unfit, and then I would have to try to pick it back up at the beginning of the next hockey season,” said Franks, who played for England at the 2016 and 2018 European Championships.
“A friend that I played hockey with who also played touch rugby said come down as it’s more fun than just doing boring fitness work, you can play another sport and stay fit over the summer.
“I did it socially for a couple of years and really enjoyed it so started playing more competitively.
“I never took it up initially as a serious sport that I could play competitively. It was never the intention of becoming something like this, I’m really happy it has and I’ve really enjoyed it but it was never the intention.”
Franks, who is a teacher at the Stephen Perse Foundation, primarily maths but also games, has had a bit of a balancing act this season.
There has been a shift as she has been unable to miss the touch rugby training given the side’s preparations for the world cup. She sat out the 4-1 defeat to Hampstead & Westminster last Saturday.
England have high hopes in Malaysia though. They are ranked second in the world, although seeded third on the basis of their performance at the last world cup.
The expectation is to reach the final, with New Zealand the major hurdle in their path in that regard, and No 1 ranked and favourites Australia will be the ultimate scalp.
Adjusting to the temperatures will be one of the biggest challenges.
“Some of the members of our squad are used to the climate in that area having spent a significant amount of time in Singapore but for lots of our squad, it’s a new experience of playing in those types of temperatures and humidity levels,” she said.
“I’ve played sport in various places but this is probably going to be the most physically challenging place in the world that I’ve played a highly-competitive tournament.”
But before the trip to Malaysia, the culmination of the hockey season will be the main focus.
“Now, the table is starting to get really close whereas a couple of months we would have looked at it and said can we catch those teams right at the top, we’re not sure we can. But now it has opened right up,” said Franks. “We’ve been trying to downplay it and not anticipate that’s where we’re going to end up, just quietly getting on with our job.”