MBE for England rugby captain Katy McLean

Darlington and Stockton Times: Katy McLean Katy McLean

ENGLAND rugby union captain Katy McLean said it was a "massive shock" to receive an MBE in the New Year Honours list - although she almost never heard about it.

The letter first went to her club's old ground in Darlington, which has been sold for housing, only for it to luckily be re-directed to Darlington Mowden Park's new home at The Northern Echo Arena from where it made its way to the 28-year-old.

On being told it was stamped with Her Majesty's Service, in McLean's words: "Panic set in."

The fly half, from South Shields, said: "With things like that the first thing you think about is like "oh God, Im being taken to court".

"I have no idea of who has nominated me or how it has come about.

"It's a bit of luck it got redirected to eventually arrive in my hand."

McLean grew up in a rugby family and started playing at the age of five with a local club in South Shields and now has 65 caps for the national team.

She believes her honour can serve as both a reward and an inspiration for women and girls in the sport.

She said: "It's one of those things that no matter how many times people ask you it just doesn't seem real.

"It's a truly amazing honour, something in my career I never thought I would receive.

"Not just for me personally - it's massive for my friends and family and all those who have supported me.

"But also for the good of the game: all those who have worked so tirelessly...who have put so much time and effort into it.

"This kind of award just shows how much our sport is growing and going in the right direction."

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