I ALWAYS SAID I WANTED TO GO OUT ON A HIGH - GULLIVER
Georgie Gulliver will be making the last appearance of an illustrious career this weekend as Barbarians FC Women face England Women at Twickenham on Sunday 2 June.
The scrum-half signed off her time at Saracens Women with a win in the Tyrrells Premier 15s Final against Harlequins Ladies and she will be aiming to finish her career on a high in the famous black and white hoops.
We sat down with the former England international to look back on her five seasons at Sarries.
Georgie, it’s been a few weeks since you announced your retirement. What are the emotions right now?
“I feel extremely lucky to be going out, double Prem champion. A lot of my friends have retired due to injury or not being picked so I personally feel extremely privileged to be going out the way I wanted to, on a massive high.
“I always said I wanted to go out on a high. Obviously, a bit risky going into the final but I knew myself it was something I’d been thinking about for a while. I wanted it to be that game but obviously I wanted the result as well at the end of it.”
Lot of people talk about finding the right time to retire, what helped make that decision for you?
“I’ve really struggled with different injuries and recovery-wise it’s the peeling yourself out of bed on a Monday morning and doing a full shift at work has been really, really tough, especially this last season.
“I will not miss that at all, obviously I’ll still be peeling myself out of bed but a little less sore hopefully.”
You joined Saracens in 2014, what did it mean for your career to come here at that time?
“It’s meant everything really. When I started at the club, I joined at a real low point in my rugby career having been left out of the World Cup squad in 2014. I stayed behind and really questioned whether I wanted to carry on playing at all really.
“Me and Vicky Fleetwood decided to come over to Sarries and see what the crack was here. We went to pre-season and realised really quickly that it was a great place to be. I feel lucky to have picked the right club really.
“I kind of fell in love with rugby again which was massively important. In that first year we won the double, the Prem and the Cup so that was it really. I was back playing rugby, doing what I loved.
“In terms of friends I got reconnected with people like Sonia Green, who I’d played with at England A, and a few other people.
“I instantly made friends with Poppy Cleall, don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but yeah instantly clicked with her and was like ‘yeah this is a great place to be’.”
You’ve had a great career and this might not be the easiest of questions, but can you pick any favourite moments?
“England-wise we played New Zealand at Twickenham, I think it was 2010, and we beat a New Zealand side for the first time in however many years and that feeling really stuck with me. That England Women’s side kicked on after that and have been winning things ever since.
“For Sarries the double win in my first year, winning the League and the Cup was really special and then last year’s inaugural Tyrrells Prem. That really meant a lot because we played a Quins side and they pushed us right to the end.
“It was one of those emotional rollercoasters of a game where they’d go ahead, we’d go ahead and that was right down to the final whistle.
“Then obviously a few weeks ago tops off what’s been a really enjoyable five years at Sarries.”
We’re sure you’ve had the chance to do this already in person but is there anyone you’d want to give a shout-out to for their help in your career?
“I’d like to shout-out my very first coach. I started playing in Bath at Avon RFC and there was a coach there, Chris Coombs.
“He’s the one who decided I was going to be a scrum-half. He put a lot of effort, before and after training sessions with extra skill sessions like getting my passing up to scratch.
“I was kind of mentored throughout 6th Form at Oldfield where Susie Appleby, ex-England nine, looked after me, taught me tricks of the trade.
“And at Saracens it’s been Rob (Cain) and Alex (Austerberry) who have really looked after me and made me an invaluable member of the squad. I can’t thank them enough really.”
And finally, what did it mean to have that big finish in Sarries colours in Northampton last month?
“Lotte Clapp did an amazing speech, she spoke about playing for the people that aren’t in that shirt today, the people that have missed out and the people that are moving on.
“It really did the trick I think, everyone was playing for each other on that Saturday and it just showed that first thirty minutes that we played were absolutely outstanding. We blew Quins out of the water.
“I can’t thank the girls enough for the effort they put in at Franklin’s Gardens to give me that big send-off.”