Fit & Fab: In defence of women's rugby
Amelie Seure went from being a complete rookie at women's rugby to a Hong Kong team member in five years. She puts this quick rise down to her competitive streak.
She achieved parallel success in her professional career. After finishing a master's degree in industrial engineering in Hong Kong, she began working as the sole employee of apparel manufacturer Full Connexion. Seven years later, the 29-year-old Frenchwoman is the company's general manager, overseeing a team of seven across Hong Kong and the mainland.
"I don't hesitate much," she says. "But I don't do crazy stuff. My brother will go bungee jumping in Macau, but that's not something I would do. Not that I'm scared; it's just not my thing."
Seure's thing is sport. In France, she played handball at a national level, but was unable to find the same level of competition when she moved to Hong Kong. She searched for a new sporting fix and discovered women's rugby.
"In France, hockey and netball are not popular. I'm not a big fan of soccer, and volleyball wasn't intense enough," she says. "I was familiar with rugby and my boss, who used to play, pushed me towards the game. I loved it instantly."
She has represented Hong Kong in the sevens and 15s teams since 2008. She was named the 2011 coach's player of the year.
The people around her have been an important part of her journey, she says: "I have been very lucky to meet a lot of experienced people and learn from all of them, including my club and national coaches, teammates and other players."
To continue to achieve good results, Seure believes in constant improvement. "I've reached a good standard, but I always want to develop my game," she says. "I'm always trying to get better." How much of your success at rugby do you attribute to natural ability? Or is it more about working hard? It's definitely been a combination of both. After a game, I only remember everything that I did wrong, and then work hard to fix it. On the other hand, I am lucky that my handball experience has helped with ball handling and the technical aspects of rugby, too. Unfortunately, my speed is pretty average. So I compensate by anticipation and aggression - I try to think faster than my opponent. Do you ever worry about getting hurt? No, I don't. Maybe that's because I'm lucky and I haven't been injured - apart from two broken noses. But those really weren't that bad. If you're scared about getting hurt, you are at greater risk of being injured.
Your rugby journey has been fast and successful. Is there anything that you would change if you could? I wish I could have started earlier. I'm trying to make up for my late start on the very specific and technical parts of the game - like ball handling skills and tackling. That kind of stuff just comes naturally if you start playing at age five.
What does your work experience bring to your rugby game? I'm always running late to training and rushing as I come straight from work. So in some ways, maybe the extra training keeps me fitter. But in the game, my work experience definitely helps me to deal with disappointments and stay motivated, and I can also help others with that. Obviously, knowing how to work well in a team is a big part of that, too.
What goes through your head when you're being tackled? I'm concentrating on the game; I'm not really thinking about anything else. Some of the guys can talk about a game three years later in every detail - what happened where - but I find that when I'm out there I'm just in the moment, in the zone. Would you encourage other women to try rugby? Of course. It is a great sport that everyone can play, no matter what your body shape. All you need is the right mental approach. The social side is also very enjoyable.
Do you think women make better rugby players? While I'd like to say that women are smarter and better players, at the end of the day, rugby is a combat sport and strength and power help the men. But I think women are more humble and willing to learn. That allows them to tap into their strengths and become good players. Women who come to rugby are prepared to work hard, which makes a difference.