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Zoe Aldcroft is making up for lost time at Gloucester-Hartpury

Zoe Aldcroft is making up for lost time at Gloucester-Hartpury
The England international second-row is actually now in her second season as a Gloucester-Hartpury player, but the first was a total write-off as an ankle injury ruled her out of all of the 2017-18 season.

She had been a member of the England 2017 Rugby World Cup squad, and admits that it was tough to go from the biggest tournament in the world to the injury list.

“It wasn’t a great time to be honest. Everything was all set, even before the World Cup, for me to come to Gloucester-Hartpury and I was so excited to be starting with a new team as the Tyrrells Premier 15s got underway.

“Then the injury happened, and I spent all last year rehabbing and I wasn’t able to really get involved with the girls. I absolutely hated spectating and couldn’t really bring myself to watch the games as I got so frustrated. But this year is so much different and how I wanted it to be.”

It was very much a return to Hartpury for Zoe, who had spent two years at Hartpury College from the age of 16. She explained that the decision to come back was an easy one.

“I was here for two years before going to Northumbria University. But it wasn’t easy up there for me to combine my academic work with my rugby. So, I picked up the phone to Susie (Appleby) to see if we could work something out.

“When I got down here, it all fell into place. There was flexibility around things like doing exams and playing rugby, and it just felt right committing to play for Gloucester-Hartpury. I knew I was going to love playing for the team and it’s working out that way.

“Because there hadn’t been a first division team here in the past, a number of us went off to play for other clubs. But then Gloucester-Hartpury were accepted into the Tyrrells Premier 15s and a lot of us wanted to come back and play our part.”

After a long, hard period of rehab came the moment before the Harlequins Ladies game when, as she laced up her boots, when she realised just how much she’d missed the game during her time out.

“Definitely. I was so ready to get back out there, I wasn’t even nervous to be honest, I just wanted so much to get out there and play again.

“However, it was tough terms of fitness! (Laughs) I didn’t think I was going to get through the first 40 minutes! The second half was a bit better than the first, but the lungs were certainly burning.”

And the return to Darlington, where she’d formerly played, was an odd experience even though a year had elapsed.

“It was quite weird. I got into the stadium and it felt like a normal game, but then I went into the away changing room and I’d never actually been in there before. But once I ran out, it all felt a bit more normal.

“As a team, we’re all starting to understand how we all operate. We’re working on things week by week and making improvements. We’re starting to gel and it’s exciting.”
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Kingsholm Stadium
Gloucester Rugby
Sat 4 Jun
KO 15:00
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