Back in the summer of 2022, news broke that a winding up petition had been issued to Worcester Warriors by HM Revenues and Customs over an unpaid tax bill of £6 million.
A month later, the club was suspended by the Rugby Football Union and put into administration.
Everybody in the rugby community was in a state of shock and Worcester fans were devastated that their club was no more.
However, fast-forward to November 15th and some light appeared at the end of the tunnel for one strand of the club. The women’s side managed to secure the necessary financial backing to kick-start Worcester’s participation in the Allianz Premier 15s and TRU writer Elizabeth Cartwright spoke to captain Vicky Laflin about the journey she and her teammates have been on.
"I think it's really great that we're back," she says. "Obviously, we went through a lot as a team but we all stuck by each other and just trusted the team and staff around us. It's great to come out the better side. We now get to focus just on rugby and we don't have to worry about all of the behind-the-scenes stuff which is really exciting."
Finally some good news coming out of Sixways. There is an investor interested in taking over ?@WorcsWarriorsW? They are still open to further investment but this could allow them to survive as a separate entity. pic.twitter.com/uxMFcfIUg0— Dan Pallett (@Dan_Pallett) October 4, 2022
During such a challenging period for everybody connected with Worcester, players and staff launched a social media campaign. Several members of the Worcester squad recorded videos sent out with the message 'TOGETHER #Worcester.' Laflin explains what the support meant to her and the Warriors family.
“The Together campaign was amazing. It just showed how whole we were as a club and we just wanted to come out the better side for all of us and try and do what is best for the rugby community and Worcester. It was lovely”.
The uncertainty around the club was incredibly difficult for everyone to endure but looking back, Laflin believes the club is in a better place for it: "Definitely as a squad, we've become closer. Obviously, there were a lot of ups and downs. We'd be training one day and then we wouldn't know if we were able to the next so I think it was about supporting each other and just trusting how everything would turn out in the end."
And once they were given the green light to continue playing in the Allianz Premier 15s, Laflin and her squad couldn't have wished for a better start to their campaign when they beat Harlequins 28-14 away from home last month.
The Warriors secured a bonus point against the 2021/2022 champions and the skipper was delighted with the victory. “That Quins win was amazing. Especially to beat Quins as I don't think we've beaten them before in the Prem so I think it was just really great to show everyone what we've gone through and show that it hasn't affected us.
"We had a lot of people questioning whether we'd be physically fit, be ready but I think it just showed people that we are still here to play rugby and still here to do well. We just came out the better side which was just amazing."
This weekend, Worcester's attention turns to Round Four of the AP 15s - a home game against Bristol Bears who sit fourth in the table and the 23-year-old is relishing the opportunity to play in front of their supporters. “A home crowd is always amazing and we get quite good support which is nice to have everyone watch us. Because obviously the men aren't playing
at the moment, I think it's nice for the community to be able to watch us play and still watch rugby.
"Bristol is always a really good game I find. We always seem to really enjoy the challenge and really enjoy the derby we have with them. I'm really excited and looking forward to it."
Since their opening day success against Quins, Worcester have lost to Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs but considering what the Warriors players have been through over the last four months or so, Laflin is not looking past the next 80 minutes: “I think
a massive thing I always comment on is making sure we more strategically get those 80-minute games. As soon as we turn up for the whole game, that's when we come out with those wins like at Quins.
"I think if we start doing that, we can start pushing higher up in the table. Obviously that is the aim, we've just got to make sure we perform”.
Originally from Reading, Laflin began playing rugby at the age of six. She represented Redingensians [now Rams RFC] because both of her brothers were at the club. She then continued her career at Reading RFC where she played for the girl's team.
When Laflin decided she wanted to go to Worcester University and study for a degree in counselling back in 2020, it was then that she linked up with Worcester Warriors. She’s never looked back and loves the culture the club buys into. She also reflected on her time as captain: "I've stayed there the whole time which has been so fab. I've got over 50 caps now...I don't know the exact number!
"We're so close as a team and we've got a big family culture here. We back each other and the support and drive we have in training and in games to be the best is what I love. To push everyone else to be the best as well is just brilliant to be a part of. It has such a great culture and I always have the best time when I'm with everyone there.
"Being captain is such a privilege. Obviously, I really love it because everyone is so supportive of me doing it. I feel like everyone really strives for their best so I don't think it's too difficult being a captain. They support you and you support them so it works really well and it's great being back.
"Obviously, there was a bit of uncertainty but we always had a bit of faith and hope that we would be back. The fact it's actually come is such a weight off all of our shoulders and it's really lovely and rewarding."