England rugby star opens up about living with 'complete blame' for losing World Cup Final
England rugby star Lydia Thompson holds back tears as she talks for the first time about living with "complete blame" for losing the World Cup Final.The Red Roses were beating New Zealand 14-0 when she was sent off for a head collision. The Black Ferns went on to win and only now, four months later, does she feel able to talk about it.In her first interview since the final, she told me: "Those multiple thoughts keep flooding you like; letting the team down, obviously it made their day a lot harder. A complete blame for the loss of the World Cup."You kind of can't believe you can get that low. But you do."The England captain Sarah Hunter told me off-camera a few weeks ago that the players didn't blame Lydia and back her completely. I asked Lydia what it means to know the players are saying the same thing behind her back as they are to her face.
"To be honest, I didn't think I was ever going to be able to talk about it. But that's why I thought it is time to talk about it because I just want to say thank you to people. The overwhelming kindness people showed me... it's just like I guess you don't expect it because you feel so terrible."She came off social media, which helped avoid the trolls that come out of the woodwork at these moments but not the negativity."No one had said anything I can imagine to be as hurtful as what my own thoughts were saying to me. I've been my own worst enemy I guess."Lydia had her mind set on quitting the sport before a meeting with her club boss Jo Yapp at Worcester Warriors a couple of weeks after the final.In the time it took to drink that coffee in the shadow of Sixways, she went from quitting to having a plan to carry on.
"She's just an incredible coach, person, human. She just listened and we talked it through. Let's just take each week as it comes."Now, she is sitting in the lobby at England's football training base at St George's Park - where she and England's Rugby team are preparing for the Six Nations.Lydia is not the first and won't be the last athlete to be at the centre of a moment that goes against them and helps decide the outcome of a huge event. She now wants to help those who come next."I'm still on the journey of kind of coming to terms of it. But bottling up isn't kind of the best thing. As much as I kind of thought I'd be strong enough to just move past it. I haven't been. I've had so much help. And yeah, I want to know that I'm there for anyone else."