Meet the mother-daughter duos smashing up the rugby pitch

Rianna Lees and her daughter Olivia and Michaela Scarle and her daughter Annabel

Rianna Lees and her daughter Olivia and Michaela Scarle and her daughter Annabel - Credit: Jayne Gallant

Sporting talent can run in the family and nowhere is this more true than on the rugby pitch for two Suffolk families. 

Southwold Women’s Rugby Team boasts not one but two mother-daughter duos among its ranks.  

Michaela Scarle started playing for Southwold Women 24 years ago when she was just 28. 

One of the founding members of the team she has been part of its lifeblood ever since. 

Rianna Lees, 40, has been playing for the club since 2013 and is its vice-captain.  

Southwold's women's rugby team currently boasts two pairs of mother and daughter players

Southwold's women's rugby team currently boasts two pairs of mother and daughter players - Credit: Jayne Gallant


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Both Mrs Scarle and Mrs Lees have brought their daughters into the world of rugby and now play alongside them every weekend.  

Annabel Scarle, 20 and Olivia Lees, 18, have both grown up playing rugby.  

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Annabel joined Southwold as a mini but left aged nine when it started to clash with her gymnastic commitments. She returned at 18 and now plays at full back alongside studying physiotherapy.  

Olivia started playing rugby at the age of 14 for Beccles with this year marking her first season playing senior rugby.  

“It’s quite surreal,” said Mrs Scarle.  

“There’s something really nice about it.  

“It’s a lovely feeling, it makes you quite proud.” 

She said that given the age gap and the physicality of rugby people wouldn’t expect a mother and daughter to play together.  

“I am old enough to be everyone’s mum,” she said. 

For Mrs Scarle the team is even more of a family affair as her husband, Rob, is also the coach of the women’s team.  

The Southwold Women's rugby team

The Southwold Women's rugby team - Credit: Jayne Gallant

For the couple it’s tricky to know how to react when their daughter gets injured.  

“It’s really hard not to run over there,” she said.  

“You have to let the medics do their job.” 

“I don’t want to be seen as an over protective mum.” 

It’s not the first time that the team, which plays in the Women's NC 2 Midlands (East), have had mother-daughter combos amongst their ranks.  

Previously Karen Fletcher and her daughter Jessica Wagner (nee Fletcher) played alongside one another for six seasons.  

A spokesman for the club said: “Long may the tradition continue, and we hope to welcome more mother and daughter pairs to Southwold Rugby club in the future.” 

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