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Three pathway players sign for Ealing Trailfinders Women

ealing traildinders women players

Ealing Trailfinders are delighted to announce the signing of three more players who will join our Premier15s squad ahead of our inaugural season in the league, who have all come through our rugby pathways.

Jo Bucknall joins the squad having been part of the Trailfinders Rugby Academy at Brunel University, while Annabel Meta and Lauren Knowler have both come through the system at Henley College, who are one of our partner schools.

Jo Bucknall

Jo is an exciting and abrasive young prop who was a crucial part of the team that saw Brunel Women secure promotion to BUCS Women’s Premier South this year, just one below the BUCS Women’s National League, after a playoff victory over the University of Cambridge. Alongside representing Brunel, Jo has also been playing for Richmond in the Women’s Championship South.

When speaking about joining the Premier15s squad, Jo said: “This is such an exciting new chapter and a real privilege getting to play alongside some of the champions of the women's game!

“Being at the Trailfinders Academy during my Master’s at Brunel University this previous season, along with all of my previous clubs, has helped me prepare for a level-up to the Premier15s where the competition is fierce and I can’t wait to learn and grow with the team next season.”

Brunel Women’s Head Coach Steve Wagstaff said: “It’s great for Jo, who has worked tirelessly throughout the season, and has excelled at BUCS and Championship level.

“Her contribution to the programme and the support she gives her peers is testament to her personality and we hope she is the first of many to come through the Brunel pathway to secure a contract with the Premier15s side.”

Annabel Meta

Annabel is powerful and dynamic number 8 who can also cover the rest of the back row. She has been part of the pathway at one of Ealing Trailfinders’ partner schools, Henley College and she represented England U18s this season in the U18s Six Nations.

On joining the Trailfinders Premier15s squad, Annabel said: “I am delighted to say that I will be a part of Ealing Trailfinders next season.

“I’m looking forward to using the excellent experience I have gained through the Rugby Programme at Henley College and I’m excited for what is to come this year at the club.

Head of Women’s Rugby at Henley College Kim Oliver said: “Annabel is a powerful athlete with huge amounts of potential.

“She has worked incredibly hard on her fundamental skills and her strength and conditioning ever since she joined the programme here and I’m super excited to continue to support her through her Premier 15s journey.”

Lauren Knowler

Lauren is a versatile centre with an exceptional distribution game. She first started playing rugby in Hong Kong at the age of seven, before moving to the UK and joining Henley in 2021. She also represented England U18s this season and both her and Annabel were an important part of Henley College Women finishing second in their debut season in the AOC performance league.

On making the move up to Ealing Trailfinders Women, Lauren said: “I’m really looking forward to joining the Premier15s squad and continuing my journey through the pathway.

“Ever since I joined Henley College my rugby has really improved. The coaches have pushed me every session to make me a better player and they are the reason I’ve made it where I am now.

“I’m excited to see what we can do as a team this season and I’m really grateful to have been given this opportunity and I’m going to make sure I grab it with both hands!”

Head of Women’s Rugby at Henley College Kim Oliver said: “Lauren is a very talented young player with a fantastic distributing game and she makes huge hits, punching above her weight!

“It has been a real pleasure to work with Lauren over the last two years, watching and encouraging her to push herself hard and keep working on the fundamental skills. She has grown as a player and as a leader and I’m really excited to continue working with her as she finds her place within the Premier15s side.”

When speaking about all three of these signings, Ealing Trailfinders Director of Women’s Rugby Giselle Mather said: “To have three outstanding young players sign for the club who have come through our rugby pathways from both Henley College and Brunel University is a sign of things to come.

“Both programmes, along with Cardinal Newman school, give opportunity for young athletes to train and develop as rugby players alongside their academic studies.

“It is our stated intention that several future Trailfinders will have travelled the dual pathway as Jo, Annabel and Lauren have done, developing them as both people and players.

“I’m really excited about all three of these signings, Jo a versatile forward who leads from the front while Annabel is a ferocious ball carrier with a genuine passion for the game. Lauren is a beautiful distributor of the ball with bags of potential in all areas of back play and I can’t wait to see them grow in our environment and realise the potential we see in them.”

Jo, Annabel and Lauren join England Red Roses Abby Dow and Liz Crake as we continue unveiling our Women’s squad to enter the Premier15s next season.

This article was first published by the Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club. Read the original here.