After picking up her fourth and fifth tries of the new season last weekend at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Loughborough Lightning wing Bo Westcombe-Evans believes the 2023/24 campaign could be her best yet.
The 21-year-old has made six appearances so far this season for Nathan Smith’s side, crossing the whitewash twice against Harlequins and once against Trailfinders Women before her brace on Sunday, which leaves her top of the pile for Lightning in terms of try scoring this term.
The win at Tigers last weekend was Loughborough’s first in this seasons Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby campaign, and the young flyer insisted that picking up the five points meant an awful lot to the playing group.
“It was amazing to play at Leicester, on a great pitch, in front of a big crowd and with a good atmosphere throughout the match,” she said.
“We knew it was going to be a big game, especially with how close we are geographically to Leicester. We all have a lot of friends that play for Tigers, and with them coming up from the Championship, there was a lot of talk of how they might perform.
“Scoring so early was special – I got over in the first five minutes, and I think you can see on the replay from my facial expression that it was a pretty surreal moment. The win was the result of a fantastic team effort, but it also feels amazing to score twice in the game.
“Given the disappointment we felt last year, this season is massive for us in terms of trying to earn some respect back for us as a team. So, the win against Leicester was very important, as we aren’t a team who wants to be lying towards the bottom of the league.”Bo Westcombe-Evans
Lightning finished last season’s Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby in eighth place, notching up five wins across their 18 games.
Head coach Nathan Smith has entered the fold, with Loughborough only looking up the ladder this term and hoping their improved performances can yield a spot in the play-offs at the business end of the season.
Westcombe-Evans has started every one of Lightning’s six matches so far across the Allianz Cup and league competitions, and she is feeling more confident than ever in the African Violet jersey.
She said: “Last year was a big disappointment for the team. This season, we just want to show people what Lightning is all about, and with Nathan and the new coaches in general, we really feel like this season is going to be a lot better than last.
“Personally, last season was also up and down for me, as I was often starting one week and then not playing the next. I think possibly I plateaued a bit, and wasn’t sure what I wanted from rugby.
“This year, I came into preseason just wanting to develop myself as a player. I would love to start in the league week in week out – but my main goal is how can I get better as a player and improve my game, and I am very focused on that.
“The coaching staff have really helped me, and it’s shown, especially in the Cup period and the first two Premiership games.
“I love the feedback we’re getting from the coaches, and I feel like I am getting the most out of training every week, which is then showing on the pitch.”Bo Westcombe-Evans
This weekend sees Bristol Bears travel to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Round 4 of Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby, and Westcombe-Evans cannot wait to return to the pristine surface in Northampton in front of Lightning’s home fans.
She added: “I absolutely love running out at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens. It is genuinely amazing, one of the best pitches in the league. To call that our home pitch now, is incredible.
“It is going to be a very good game of rugby. It is going to be a big challenge as they are a very good side, and they have recruited some very good players.
“But we are a very tight-knit group at Lightning, and I believe we have what it takes to beat them.”