Cancelled trains, nightmare traffic, that diversion via the pub… we’ve all experienced nightmare journeys home from a rugby match, whether a player or a fan. The women’s section at Richmond, though, will take your nightmare journey, and blow it out of the water.

Meet Claire Phelps and Jade Wong, who are both in the Richmond first team set-up as the side enter their second season in the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s. The thing that makes them stand out? They live in Southwold. In Suffolk. That’s just over three hour’s drive from the club they call home!

“It’s pretty tough,” says Phelps, a stalwart second row who has previously turned out for Saracens and Thurrock at the top level. “We are always on the go. We look forward to our school holidays and are lucky to have that time off work to do something with our holidays. Having said that, Jade is taking over as head of prep school this year so it will be a big change professionally!”

Both the women are teachers, in fact, which often leads to a mad rush to make training on time. Out of the school gates on the b of the bell, and all that. “We drive twice a week, once to train and once to play,” says Irish-qualified Wong. “It’s supposed to be a three-hour drive but it usually takes four, so we leave at 3.30 just to get to training on time. The stress of which route has less traffic is a weekly problem and there have been times where we have had to turn around and head back home.  But we usually take it turns to drive and sing along to various music - Disney is usually key!”

“It’s difficult to choose the worst journey we’ve had to do, as most are long. Last season’s snow chaos, though, meant it took five hours to get to Richmond as most of East Anglia was covered in snow. We even had to stop and push a BMW off the M11 at one point – this was part of our warm up.”

Having met through London and South-East divisional rugby, the duo crossed paths a few times before both turning up at Richmond. Phelps’ daughter and the success of their respective teaching careers keep them up in Suffolk, so the obvious question – and one which a Richmond representative shouldn’t be asking – is… why keep playing for Richmond?

“It’s a great set-up,” the girls both rush to say. “The coaching team is fantastic, the club provides a very professional environment without losing its family and social ethos. Claire’s daughter has always been made to feel very welcome, too, and the club has always had the drive to push its women section. That makes a big difference.

“Also, they’ve been really understanding about our position. We are able to come to training, work hard and then go home. The coaches and other players totally accept our commitment to the club, and they let us S&C in our own time, and ‘attend meetings’ via Facetime. We still have to earn our shirts, but we don’t get treated any differently, which is amazing.”

In an amateur set-up, the petrol money alone must be a killer, but Phelps and Wong refuse to complain, and other than discussing Phelps’ daughter – and of course their dog Rosie – rugby is very much their focus, and success in the second Premier 15s season is the target on the field. That, and maybe a new Disney CD sometime soon...

The Tyrrell’s Premier 15s season begins this weekend and sees Richmond FC begin their campaign away at Loughborough Lightning.