2020-21 Club Rugby Women Editorial

Feature: Ollie Andrews

It was disappointing to read, during the build up to International Women’s Day, about a couple of women rugby players who had to set up “Go Fund Me” pages in an effort to get rugby related injuries treated in a timely manner.

Current Wales International, and Bristol Bears Rugby player Alisha Butchers, had to set up a Go Fund Me page for her ankle surgery. Fortunately, Butchers was able to get her surgery after being part funded from Bristol and over 180 different donations on her Go Fund Me page.

Closer to home we have Olivia (Ollie) Andrews who requires £7,300 for back surgery to remove two metal rods put in her back following an injury sustained at training. She has also now set up her own Go Fund Me page.

Our Women’s Rugby reporter Beth Cregan caught up with Ollie Andrews over the weekend.

Ollie first came to our attention in her U18 days when she was playing for Malone against Larne girls in 2017 – 18 in the featured image above.

Ollie only started rugby at age 16 after being involved in competitive swimming. However, trying to juggle school, a social life and 18 hours of swimming training was difficult, when her father started encourage her to take up rugby she decided to give it a go. She progressed from her Dad’s club at the time, Randalstown RFC, to Malone Rugby Club U18s. During this time Ollie was called into the Ulster 7s U18 squad and also selected for the Irish 7s U18 training squad.

The journey continued with Malone Women in the All Ireland League, which she describes as “terrifying but good experience and helped me learn a lot about the game“.

Ollie Andrews in action for Malone Against Galwegians in the AIL

After this senior season Ollie felt like she needed a change and was offered a sports scholarship for Canterbury Christ Church University (Kent) which she was super exciting about. She also felt that she wanted to play for a home club as well, and moved to Cooke this past summer. Ollie has said “my first session was amazing with a great bunch of supportive ladies.

Unfortunately, only 3 weeks into training with Cooke on August 29th during a drill collision Ollie collided with another player and landed in an awkward position.

There was a lot of cracking, but I never ever suspected a broken back.

Ollie Andrews

After a dramatic two days Ollie ended up being taken to the Royal Victoria hospital by ambulance with a three column break in her spine which required emergency surgery.

It takes a lot to worry me, but as a 19-year-old girl who has been involved in competitive sport from such a young age it is terrifying receiving a call with instructions to stay as still possible. After a day of waiting nervously, I was into theatre to fix a three-column spinal fracture in T11 and T12.

I spent roughly a week in hospital, and the support I received from everyone was amazing. I had a ton of messages, gifts, cards you name it from different clubs and players. I cannot thank everyone enough.

After her surgery, when Ollie was fit enough, she was given physiotherapy from Cooke to aid in her recovery. However, the metal work in her back is not only holding back Ollie’s rugby career it is also interfering with her everyday life.

Currently Ollie is still in pain and cannot do simple things like run, jump or lay flat and so now needs to remove the metal rods that were placed in her back. Due to Covid-19 the NHS cannot remove the rods for at least two years and so Ollie has set up her own Go Fund Me page to enable her to do this. You can donate by clicking the link below.

Ollie Andrews Go Fund me page

The whole experience has not only been tough physically but mentally as well, the idea of being out of rugby for potentially a couple of years is the worst feeling. Rugby is a huge part of my life not only playing but coaching as well and in order to get back to doing the things I love and live a pain free life I need to get the metal work removed.

Thanks to the club and my family, of course, being so supportive it is looking more likely that I’ll be back sooner than was expected. After starting the Go Fund Me page, I was so overwhelmed by all the support especially in the rugby community. I’ve got a little way to go but I am starting to get so close to my goal and I am so thankful for all the help.

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