- Kiera Paul-Jones is rising through the ranks as a player and coach
- The 21-year-old from East London took up the sport three years ago
- Find out more about the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme
You can’t teach speed – that’s the golden rule that has seen Kiera Paul-Jones transform from a teenage sprinter to rising star in rugby.
The 21-year-old, who grew up just outside Stratford in East London, spent most of her childhood on an athletics track but after trying rugby for the first time at university she has spent the last three years making a name for herself as both a player and coach.
“I became obsessed”
“I was always fast,” says Paul-Jones, whose 100 metre personal best was just over 12.5 seconds.
“I spent most days a week training for athletics and when I went to university that’s what I planned on continuing.”
"When I got there the athletics set up wasn't what i'd hoped for so I didn't know what to do. Someone on my course said I should give rugby a try because my speed would be a good fit for it.
“I didn’t know anything about rugby but when I got there I just told them I was quite fast. They asked me to chase down and catch a high ball and from that they put me straight in the team."
In the week before her first match Paul-Jones spent her days in the library reading everything she could about the rules of the game.
“I became obsessed with rugby. Whenever I put my mind to something I want to do my best at it so I tried to find out everything I could, even if the other girls thought I was a bit of a keen fresher!”
All the hard work seemed to pay off; Paul-Jones was unstoppable in her first match, using her speed to score two tries and so began her incredible rugby journey.
She is now in her fourth year at university and since first picking up a ball she has represented her university, county, Richmond Ladies and England Students.
“It’s been crazy,” says Paul-Jones of her journey. “Rugby has become my life and I want to take it as far as I can.”
“Coaching has taught me so much”
The tricky decision for Paul-Jones may be choosing which direction she goes as it’s not only her playing career that is on the rise.
After completing a year as a community rugby coach at London Irish, and being put through her level two coaching qualification by the RFU, she is now the assistant coach for the university’s men’s team.
Her progress in the coaching world was recently noticed as part of the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme where she was one of 12 coaches from across the country invited to take part in a training session with England head coach Eddie Jones.
“I started coaching just to try and help build my understanding of the game but it’s become more than that now. I get to appreciate the sport from a different angle and work with different groups of people.”
It is clear for Paul-Jones that rugby has changed her life and now she is determined to help people like her who are late to the sport.
"I felt nervous at first going into new situations as a coach but it teaches you so much about the sport and you start to really build confidence in yourself to facilitate and deliver sessions.
"From coaching kids to leading sessions with the university men's team, I'm really enjoying the journey. I love coaching with people who have never been involved in rugby before and showing them how great this sport is."
From giving up sprinting to picking up the ball for the first time three years ago, before representing her country and becoming one of the most notable young coaches, all within three years - Paul-Jones is clearly still set on doing things quickly.