- Katie Hall is Doncaster Demons' captain
- How to get involved in women's rugby
A Doncaster Demons training session is loud. Every week up to 30 women, most of whom are completely new to the sport, gather at Castle Park to train and the laughter levels are high.
That is until captain Katie Hall speaks. Then the squad are quiet because Katie is a player and person worth listening to.
"Rugby has saved me numerous times"
A 37-year-old mother of two, who began playing for the Demons 10 years ago, Hall hasn’t been without her challenges over the last decade.
As well as having ulcerative colitis, she has also suffered with panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Throughout it all there has been one thing she has always been able to rely upon, the Demons.
“Rugby has saved me numerous times,” says Hall. “It helps me feel safe and loved, and it makes me know I have made a commitment and I need to get out of the house, even on my worst days.
“It’s like an extended family who aren't blood but who I trust with anything. For me that’s an amazing feeling because I struggle to let people in."
If her sister hadn’t dragged her along to a training session all those years ago, Hall may never have got involved with the Demons and so now she is determined to help spread the game to as many women and girls as possible.
“I became fixtures secretary, did my coaching qualifications and then became captain,” she explains.
“It has been amazing to see the women’s and girls’ game grow so much all around the country. The one thing that made me fall in love with rugby was the respect, it’s something you get without even asking for it.
“Until you experience rugby you don’t understand the bond that it gives you so I want others to feel the same benefits that I did.”
Hall’s attitude sums up that of the entire Demons squad.
“I’m loud,” says Hall. “But I’m also probably the mum of the group. We have a lot of fun in training but I think we also have a good sense of when someone needs supporting."
The Demons were in attendance at the Red Roses' match against Canada at Castle Park in November and Hall says seeing them play will help inspire more local women to take up the sport.
“The Red Roses are leading the way for younger players and to see them in Doncaster is huge for rugby here.”
As for Hall, she has no intention of hanging up her boots or stepping away from the club.
“I’ll always be here, even if it’s not playing. I’ll always be there to help give back to this club because they have always been there for me, no questions asked.”