Vicky Macqueen Exclusive: It’s so exciting and what I’ve been fighting for my whole career

Vicky Macqueen will lead Leicester Tigers into their first fixture this weekend
©Leicester Tigers

It was announced last summer that former England international Vicky Macqueen was appointed head of Tigers women’s and girls’ rugby.

Joining forces with Lichfield, the newly-formed side will compete in Championship North 1 this season.

They will play six matches at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in their debut campaign, but they begin the term on Sunday away at Bishop Auckland Ladies.

To help grow the game, Tigers made season tickets for the women’s team available for free to all women and girls currently playing club rugby while the club’s season ticket holders will also be able to attend the matches at no extra cost.

TRU contributor Elizabeth Cartwright spoke to Vicky ahead of a brand new chapter in the Tigers’ illustrious history. She shared her enthusiasm for the 2022/2023 season, as well as how much of a driving force Leicester’s CEO Andrea Pinchen has been for the women’s squad.

“We’re so excited to begin our first season in the Championship,” she tells TRU. “We want to do a really good job and stay on the same path as the men’s senior team. It’s all about the club first and our values on and off the pitch. We’ve got a great squad who are talented, skilled, fit and young but who are also good, genuine people."

CEO Andrea Pinchen has been a part of the club since 2004, before being appointed Chief Executive in May 2020. She’s been instrumental in supporting Macqueen and her squad since the announcement was made.

“Andrea has been fabulous,” Macqueen continues. “She is so passionate about making this work. When we announced the squad, she organised it so the team could be on the pitch at half-time at the final home game of the season this year. That was all her own doing.

“We were there with our first two sponsors - Samurai and Häfele. It’s really coming together now. I think her voice is so important. One, being a woman and being so inspiring in that position which is amazing and two because she has such a drive and passion. She really wants the girls to excel and she wants them to have the same opportunities that the guys have and she’s been really vocal about that. She’s a really good leader."

Given the growing popularity of women’s sport, Macqueen believes this is the perfect time for the formation of the Tigers’ women’s team: “It’s amazing women’s sport is on such a high - the fans being back together, the Red Roses backing the Lionesses, women’s hockey, football, it’s all so fantastic. It’s so exciting and what I’ve been fighting for my whole career. It’s really nice that the hard work is paying off now.

“We’ve come so far in such a short space of time. Last July, there wasn’t even a women’s team. We’re now a year on, a full squad, over one hundred girls training across Lichfield and Tigers and we’ve recruited our own players and feel we’ve added value in the region.

“It’s all about supporting the grassroots clubs and signposting people in the right direction. People having a pathway to showcase their talent is so important. It’s an exciting time for women’s sport and when we take a step back, we can see we’ve achieved a lot in such a short space of time. I’ll be super proud of the girls when they run out. Each game, we’ll get better and better.”

Tigers are already eager to apply for a place in the Allianz Premier 15s. Leicester Tigers Women want to be competing against the best of the best and Macqueen hopes it won’t be too long before that happens.

The Tigers have put their proposal forward and will find out soon whether they have made it onto the RFU selection panel’s shortlist. A decision on whether their application will be successful won’t be determined until Spring 2023.

“We put our bid in to apply for a spot in the AP 15’s and are waiting to hear what happens with our application,” Macqueen adds. “We had four games last season which everyone got behind us for. We’ll see what the RFU says in November, we can’t wait, it’s a very exciting time.”

Macqueen’s side have already had pre-season outings against Bristol Bears, London Irish and Henley Hawks, winning twice, but this weekend is where it all begins for Leicester Tigers. A new era but with it comes great optimism.