Game Changers: Rugby star and current student Laura Keates

What is it like to be an elite athlete representing your country, while also getting your degree? Current dental student and England Rugby and Worcester Warriors star Laura Keates to tell us more and why the game of rugby means so much to her.

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Video Length: 03:35
Video content: This video features University of Birmingham dental student and England Rugby and Worcester Warriors star Laura Keates answering a series of questions about her experience of studying while also representing her country at professional sporting level.


[Shots of Laura sitting down getting ready for her interview]

[Laura Keates, Women's Rugby World Cup Winner 2014, Fourth Year Dental Student]
Hi, my name is Laura Keates. I've got 62 caps for England rugby and I study Dentistry at the University of Birmingham. I first came to the University of Birmingham in 2007 and I graduated in 2010. And then I was lucky enough to get a job working in the Sports Centre. In 2017 I started my dentistry degree and I'm currently in my fourth year.

I've always really focused on rugby. That's always been at the forefront of everything I did. But I was kind of looking towards wanting a career. My mum told me to do some work experience, so I went along and gave it a go and just really enjoyed the work. There's a lot of crossover with rugby, you know, teamwork, dedication and communication. And also it's quite creative as well. So then yeah, just set about trying to get a place in studying dentistry.

[On-screen title] What inspired you to play rugby?

I used to watch loads of rugby with my dad. I remember kind of always asking him questions and just thinking, “this is such a complicated game, I'm never going to understand it.” But he stuck with me and explained it all. And then I was able to play at school and then from there, just kind of went along to county trials, went along to regional trials and ended up joining Worcester Warriors. I started when I was about 15-years-old. That's a long time ago now. I've been playing for quite a while.

[On-screen title] What's the best thing about rugby?

I'd say it's a sport for everyone. You know, all shapes and sizes, all speeds, all skills. And the best thing I love about it is you're all working together for a common goal. It's a game with a group of your mates. So, yeah, I love it.

[On-screen title] What support have you received?

The university has supported me massively throughout my career. In my first degree, I hadn't got capped yet, but I was kind of in the Under-20s squad and I was on scholarship. They helped me with a lot of the, you know, the training and the leading into it and kind of starting off that dual-career and gave me a lot of time off to do the camps. Back then, it wasn't professional. So it was really, really helpful of them to be able to know that I had a job to come back to.

[On-screen title] Any setbacks?

I had quite a serious injury. Yeah, I ruptured my achilles unfortunately. The Sports Center and the Sports Scholarship Programme: we've worked quite closely on, you know, things like ankle range and calf strength and stuff like that, as well as the generic lifting as well. So I definitely say I'm the strongest I've ever been. And then I've also been lucky enough to work with Physiokinetic that are associated with the university as well, making sure that everything ties in together. And then added to that with my Warriors physio, as well, the support I've had has been absolutely outstanding, really been to an elite level, after what potentially could be a career-ending injury. Over lockdown, there were a few scholars that were granted elite access to continue to train, and I was lucky enough to be one of those, and it's made a massive difference because that was shortly after my operation. We've just had the new Sports Centre. The facilities there are amazing. So it's really rewarding to be able to train in such an elite environment.

[On-screen title] What is the best thing about the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham?

It's massive that the Commonwealth's coming to Birmingham like, it's so exciting. Even the fact as well, like the university are going to host squash and hockey. It's going to give everyone a chance to see what Birmingham has to offer.

[On-screen title] What do you like about living in Birmingham?

Great open spaces, great parks, the food, the diversity, I love the culture. It's a fantastic city.

Game-changing for me is about the impact that sport can have on your life. I'm a massive advocate for playing sport I think everyone should get involved. And that's what I love about rugby, as I've already said, it is a game for all. Game-changing for me is about getting involved and having fun with your mates.


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