Jade Knight discusses the feelings of uncertainty in women's rugby
Watch The Women's Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports Action on Wednesday at 8pm and Women's Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 12/08/20 3:42pm
Saracens Women and Wales scrum-half Jade Knight says there is a feeling of uncertainty in the women's game right now, and that she hopes key parts of the game will be protected.
Knight joined Saracens Women midway through the 2018/19 season and like all players in the Tyrrells Premier 15s competition, saw their 2020 season cancelled in March and a 'best playing record formula' calculated their final standings.
Prior to the pause and subsequent cancellation, Saracens Women had won all 12 of their league fixtures however, on a personal level, Knight had limited time to dwell on missing an opportunity for another title.
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Alongside a thriving rugby career, Knight is a midwife and with the presence of the pandemic, she had to make the decision to separate herself from her partner and five-year-old son.
"I was very, very fortunate that my son could go out in the countryside with my in-laws, so we took that opportunity," she told Sky Sports News.
"That allowed me to work, focus on my patients and then come home and not worry about passing it on to anyone else.
"It was really tough, I'd go for days without speaking to my son because of my long hours. I think, it was almost worse seeing the videos of him playing and not being there."
Jade Knight on being reunited with her son after ten weeks apart
You imagine it and you think it’s going to be amazing, with that big hug and that everything is going to be fine... but he was really, really shy. He was almost was angry with me and didn’t want to speak to me for a couple of minutes. As soon as we’d had a cwtch, everything was fine, and we’ve been great since.
Knight became a midwife following the birth of son, Emrys. She revealed that before she had him, the thought of giving birth was "petrifying". However, on the journey to understanding more about that, she found her calling and passion in midwifery.
As is the case for so many female rugby players, and other female athletes, Knight juggles both careers and is always spinning multiple plates at once.
"It's tough, you have to be extremely organised. I'm one of these people, the busier I am, the more organised I am. I'm a part-time midwife, part-time rugby player and they balance each other out very nicely.
"If I had a really tough shift, then I go to rugby where I can get all of that out and put my emotions on the pitch. Equally, if selection hasn't gone my way I can then go back to midwifery and get the rewards that I get from looking after women."
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The futures of England men's and women's rugby sevens sides are in serious doubt.
Knight is now able to add rugby back into her day-to-day routine with Saracens Women coming together under stage one of elite sport's return to training guidelines. It's a step in the right direction however, right now, not all of the news within the women's game is positive.
"There is a lot of uncertainty with the women's game at the moment and as a player, you go back to that rule of control the controllables.
"So, for us as players we're just trying to keep going with our fitness and our training and we're just aiming for our first matches.
"When you take a step back, on the wider scale of things, the concern is that we would have less sponsorship, less funding and that would impact us in the long term. So, just hoping that it doesn't impact us too much."
It's going to be one of those things where you see what happens over the next year, really.
One area of the game that Knight is keen to see protected feeds into the elite level and is where she started her rugby.
"The women's game in the community is huge," she said.
"When I think back to when I first started playing, I started in the community and I was playing international rugby within a year.
"It's huge, especially in places like Wales in and the rural areas. A lot of the girls don't feel confident enough to start at the higher level, so they start anchoring a community team. There's so much talent there.
"If that gets cut then a lot of these girls may not even play, just as we're starting to change that notion of rugby [not being for women] and getting young girls to play.
"If they don't have local role models, then I do worry about girls getting to rugby in the future."
Back at the top of the game, Knight's Wales are looking for three new roles to be filled by autumn 2020; a new head coach, physical performance lead and performance analyst.
After four Six Nations losses earlier in the year, what will the introduction of new personnel do before the competition is completed on the weekends of October 24, October 31 and December 5?
"To make it more professional, is always welcomed. As players, that is what we are pushing for, continuously. We want to close the gap and we look forward to seeing what the three new coaches are going to bring.
"It's a shame that they've had to change them at this time, with the build-up to the World Cup but I'm sure they'll be welcomed, and the girls will be very, very motivated to get involved.
"For Wales to catch up on the rest, we need to have a more professional approach and we need to have that time input, have those coaches in place because they'll have a big impact to push us as players. The gap is there, and it would be nice to close it soon."
On top of new voices in camp, Knight wants to see increased funding for the national women's side in Wales.
"A lot of the girls work full-time, so they're having to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning just to get a training session in before work.
"Fatigue has a massive impact on your abiity to train at the best [level] and not having that recovery time [impacts it].
"I think when women are able to train more and be professional, that's when we'll see a massive change."
Watch The Women's Sport Debate, live on Sky Sports on Wednesday at 8pm and Women's Sport Debate: The Reaction at 9pm, plus stream both shows via the Sky Sports YouTube channel.