St Davids College

Rugby at St Davids Boarding School

Jess Kavanagh much more than a PE teacher

Published: 17.02.2022 ( 2 years ago )

Jess Kavanagh is the embodiment of never giving up. Our 32-year-old PE teacher has endured ruptured ligaments, a punctured lung and broken ribs to play rugby for Wales Women’s National Rugby Team.

She’s fought back after years of serious injury to play once again for Sale Sharks and recently just missed out on winning her place back in the national Wales team.

Miss Kavanagh plays for the sheer love of the game and says pulling on that Welsh shirt and scoring a try for her country is a feeling like none other. In 2018 she was dubbed “mad” by a Welsh newspaper for making a six-hour, 300-mile trip to training-three times a week.

After the three-hour gruelling training session, she’d arrive back home in Gwynedd at around 1am before getting up for work the following morning.

“Not a lot of people can say they’ve played for their country, it’s never been about the money for me,”
“I’ve made friends for life on rugby pitches, I love playing as a team.”

Miss Kavanagh’s determination and spirit epitomise the ethos of St David’s College.

She joined us at St David’s last October, coaching rugby, football, tennis, netball, lacrosse and football. She recently made history by setting up St David’s first ever Year 7 & 8 Girls Rugby Team, and the team is thriving and there are already calls to develop a senior girls rugby team.

“What I like about teaching at St David’s is that we don’t focus on just one sport, the pupils have a choice what sports they’d like to get involved in,” Miss Kavanagh said.

She continued: “We practice different skills over and over again, and we do a lot of research in the PE department so that we are learning everyday new things to try.”

“The PE staff here are friends not just colleagues, and the more we and the pupils put in the more we all get out of it.

She added: “If I manage to change one pupil’s view of sport then that’s great.

“I think because of the school’s quite small size we can develop a really good rapport with the children.

“I’m incredibly proud of the Year 7 & 8 Girls Rugby Team, they are genuinely really good, very keen and their minds are like little sponges they take everything in.”

Amelie, who is in Year Eight, said: “I’m really enjoying rugby, and we went on our first away trip to Chester to play a match with another girls’ team, it was great!

“It’s just an exciting game to be involved in, and really fun.”

She added: “We went to watch Miss Kavanagh play at Sale Sharks, it was brilliant!”