Royal Air Force
logistics mover Senior Aircraftwoman Sian Williams yesterday made history as
she became Wales’s first professional women’s rugby player.
The Wales flanker has been awarded elite athlete status by the Service, enabling her to train full-time to play for her national team.
SAC Williams, currently stationed at RAF Brize Norton, said: “I joined the RAF because it is an elite organisation and I wanted to actively serve in the Armed Forces to make a difference. I am at a point in my rugby career where I want to keep learning and keep getting better. Achieving elite athlete status gives me the time before the next Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017 to strive for excellence and do everything in my power to become a world class rugby player.”
SAC Williams has represented the RAF Rugby Union Women’s team and the Combined Services’ Women teams continuously since joining the RAF in 2008, as well as playing for Wales and for the Premiership side Worcester. She received her first cap for Wales in 2011 against Scotland, and led Wales’s Under-20s to victory over England in 2011.
The RAF’s senior officer in Wales, Air Commodore Dai Williams, said: “Fitness, courage and hard work are values we treasure in the Royal Air Force, and they’re equally important in rugby. So we’re proud that SAC Williams is now able to put those qualities to use both in the RAF and as a member of the Wales squad. Now that she has Elite Athlete Status she will be able to train full-time to play for Wales while also encouraging her RAF colleagues to enjoy the many sporting opportunities and healthy lifestyle the Service offers. We look forward to celebrating her achievements for Wales in the months and years ahead.”
RAF Rugby Union Women’s Director Wing Commander Mark Jackson said: “SAC Williams’ potential to represent her nation over the coming three years was deemed exceptionally significant by the RAF. The required commitment from her was becoming increasingly challenging with the continuation of her primary role at RAF Brize Norton. Therefore it was essential to award SAC Williams with elite athlete status to allow her to achieve her full capability to represent her country at the highest level. The elite athlete status allows SAC Williams to play rugby full-time professionally, while still being part of the Royal Air Force.”
Welsh Rugby Union Group Chief Executive Martyn Phillips said: “It’s fantastic that the RAF has recognised Sian’s playing ability and commitment to the game in this way. As a Union, women’s rugby is one of our key strategic priorities and this recognition can only strengthen the quality of the national team. It would be great to see more girls in a position where they can concentrate on rugby full-time in order to compete on the highest stage.”
Photographs: SAC Ben Lees
RAF airwoman SAC Sian Williams in her RAF uniform.
RAF airwoman SAC Sian Williams in her Wales kit.
© MOD Crown Copyright 2016