Mum and daughter are teammates in Deepings women’s rugby team

Mum and daughter rugby teammates Linda and Bryony Hickson.
Mum and daughter rugby teammates Linda and Bryony Hickson.
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Budding rugby star Bryony Hickson (17) made her playing debut with her mum Linda’s team, Deeping Devils Ladies.

The Deepings School pupil impressed in her first match on the wing, notably in the second half, making strong runs and keeping possession of the ball when tackled.

Seasoned player and proud mum Linda says: “She will be scoring tries before very long.”

Aged 49 years and 11 months, Linda is easily the team veteran – being more than 10 years senior to the next oldest player – and realises her 32-year run as a player is heading towards its close.

But her love of the sport is undiminished.

Linda’s only breaks from rugby came when pregnant with son Sam, now 21, and Bryony, and following a complete knee replacement in 2011.

Speaking about the knee op, Linda says: “There was no specific injury, it was just many years of using it.”

But there have been knocks.

“I guess I have had the odd black eye,” says Linda. “I broke my hand once, dislocated my knee once, and I’ve had concussion. It sounds like I’ve had a lot of injuries but that’s all over 32 years of play.”

Bryony played tag rugby when aged six or seven but didn’t fancy the contact element of the sport.

That changed when a member of the Deepings men’s team visited Bryony’s school and the newly enthused teenager began training with the Devils in the summer, and was assessed fit to play senior rugby only three days before her team trounced St Neots by 49-12.

Normally you have to be 18, the same age Linda was when she started playing while at the University of Birmingham.

Linda donned the number 8 shirt for her first match and still plays there, although she’s had a couple of seasons in the centres and second row.

Linda’s enjoyed play at all levels, from non-league to premiership, with some regional and divisional games.

Linda and husband Paul are both ex air force and, while living in Germany, Linda commuted to The Netherlands to play rugby for Nijmegen.

Her day job is associate professor in accounting and finance at De Montfort University.

Linda said: “I think rugby is the one sport that provides everything you could possibly want out of a sport, the fitness aspect, the competitive aspect, the team aspect and, also, if you want to get rid of a little bit of aggression.”

• The next home game for Deepings Devils Ladies is on Sunday (January, 28), starting at 2.15pm.

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