10 December 2023
Sarah Jenkins: A Driving Force Behind Women’s Rugby in the Navy
Written by Jane West - Director of Community Rugby
Congratulations, Jenks, on your well-deserved selection as the head coach for the Senior Women's XV team for the upcoming season!
Chief Petty Officer Sarah ‘Jenks’ Jenkins has emerged as a cornerstone of the Royal Navy Rugby Union (RNRU), marking her 18th year within the organisation while eagerly preparing for the forthcoming season. Her tenure stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to the sport, particularly within the realm of women's rugby, where her influence and dedication have been pivotal.
Since her arrival in 2005, Jenks swiftly established herself within the RN Rugby circles, leveraging her sporting prowess and prior experience to cement her position within the team. Despite an initial setback of not being selected for the Inter Services during her debut season, her perseverance and rigorous training with her civilian club propelled her forward. Her determination bore fruit with subsequent selections to represent the RN in the Inter Services in 2007 and the UK Armed Forces team in 2011.
Jenks’ journey within the RNRU unfolded as a multifaceted progression, transitioning from player to a leadership role. Her illustrious playing career spanned 12 Inter Service Championships, culminating in her retirement from playing in 2019 after earning her first RNRU cap in 2012. Notably, she served as Vice Captain multiple times and led the team as Captain during the 2014 Inter Services. Furthermore, she seamlessly shouldered the responsibilities of player-coach, marking a natural evolution in her trajectory within the sport.
Her contributions expanded beyond her playing days. In 2016/17, she played a central role in establishing and nurturing the RN Women’s Development Squad, showcasing her commitment to fostering talent and bridging the gap between newcomers and seasoned players. Her role extended into coaching, acquiring qualifications from the RFU while spearheading the development squad and later assuming coaching responsibilities within the RNRU structure.
Jenks’ impact transcends the confines of the RNRU. Her coaching talents were recognized outside the Navy, earning her the position of Head Coach for the Southern Counties U18’s and Trojan’s U18 in 2019, underscoring her potential as a rising coach in women’s rugby.
However, her contributions extend far beyond coaching accolades. Even during pivotal personal moments, such as during her pregnancy in 2021, Jenks remained dedicated to coaching the women’s squad and fulfilling team management obligations. Her selflessness was evident in 2022 when she swiftly stepped into the role of backs coach for the first RNRU(W) tour to South Africa, leaving her son at short notice to support the team.
Congratulations, Jenks, on your well-deserved selection as the head coach for the Senior Women's XV team for the upcoming season! Your leadership and expertise are sure to inspire greatness on the field.
Images by Jarrad Hulm and Alligin Photography