Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Lives in brief

Linda Uttley, England women's rugby player, was born on October 26, 1966. She died of cancer on November 27, 2009, aged 43 Linda Uttley played rugby for England and forged a gloriously colourful reputation that ensured her place in the game's folklore.

She was born in Barnes, southwest London in 1966, the youngest of eight siblings. She began her career in 1989 at Teddington Rugby Club and grew into one of the finest players of her generation. She moved to Wasps Rugby Club in 1995 and played a key role in a team that dominated the women's game.

In 1997 she won her first cap and began a career for England in which she would win 13 caps and play in the 1998 World Cup. She played in every position except prop, hooker and fullback, although she was best-known as a flanker.

The tales of her conduct away from the field are as stunning as her reputation on it, such as the memorable sumo wrestling match while on tour to Paris, in 1992. She had beaten all the women in the vicinity and then took on, and beat, a French No 8 called Bernard.

In November 2007 she was told that she had a rare, aggressive and advanced form of cancer, leiomyosarcoma. The rugby community rushed to her aid, raising funds to help her to cope with the illness. In the event she defied all the medical predictions and was still dancing a year later. She would whip off her wig and dance the night away, eking out every last moment of joy. She remained a regular on the touchlines at Teddington, continued to work for the Rugby Football Union and even toured with the Classic Lionesses.

She bore her cancer's devastating effects with great humour, fortitude and mental strength.

The Times (London, England) (Jan 27, 2010): p51.

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