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Becky Higgins

Becky Higgins

Becky is originally from Warrington and a rugby league uber fan. Originally a volunteer she found her niche and passion for selling tickets for all rugby league events.  She is the Team Manager for Featherstone Super League Women’s team and is the Kit Manager for England Women.

Julia Lee chats to Becky about her life in Rugby League

I’m originally from Warrington. I’m probably an uber fan – a fan since knee high, being passed over the turnstile at Warrington and I’ve always followed it. I always wanted to work in rugby league, but it was never that easy. Playing rugby league, as I’m 42 years of age now, the opportunities weren’t there the same and if you did, you played with the lads, up at Crossfield’s. But that was it – there was no availability. So, there was a big gap in my life – I couldn’t get involved because there wasn’t the opportunities. Now, the opportunities these girls have got to play for teams, for Super League and to play for their country, it’s great. It just wasn’t a thing when I was growing up.

So, to get really involved in rugby league I was volunteering at the Wolves – or the Wire then – and then it just stopped, and I was again a fan. But then I had the opportunity to help at the Rhinos – through a friend of a friend – and I was doing kit at the Rhinos, probably about 10 years ago now.

We were volunteering. I was working with Glynn Bell, one of the hardest-working men in rugby league, who just showed me what to do and how to do it and the professionalism of it all. It’s not just a kit person, there’s a lot of time and everything’s got to be right and that’s what it is, that’s what I learnt.  I was doing that for a few years with Glynn, and then there was a job that came up at the Rhinos.  I was still living in Warrington at this point, and I went, and I didn’t get it, because there was a girl who’d worked at Huddersfield Giants in front of me, so we take the knock and carry on. Anyway, she didn’t work out, so Sian Jones asked me to work there.

I was working in the ticket office, just customer service, working game days, something that as a fan, you were a bit star-struck about it was a massive buzz for me. I loved it.

That was 2012. And I did a few seasons with the Rhinos, obviously, when they were like absolutely at the top of their game. But it was the professionalism of the Rhinos that just made it easy. And then this – who is now one of my best friends in the world, Sean Tennant – who said to me, “Do you want to come and work at the Rugby League?”. “Doing what?”. “Just selling tickets”. Well that was that, “Absolutely yeah, yeah, where do I sign?” “Well, you’ll have to come and meet my dad.” “Who’s your dad?” “Ray Tennant. You know him, don’t you?” “I’ve heard of him”. Well, we’re going in to the quickest interview I’ve ever known in my life. “Can you sell?” “I think so” “Are you sure?” “Yeah I can sell”. “OK, alright, we’ll arrange another interview and I’ll see you in a week.” And that was that. You know, you’re around these people and you hear these names and you meet them. Ray for me, he’s… I don’t know, …… but there are people like him that are missed in Rugby League. He’s a great figure.

So, we were selling tickets. That’s all we ever wanted to do, getting bums on seats.

We were selling tickets for all rugby league events in the first instance. For the Summer Bash, for the Magic Weekend, Grand Final and the Challenge Cup. And anything around the Challenge Cup, so semi-finals. We were selling, you know, so that’s what we were doing. But as time went on, we started to work with clubs. I worked with Castleford, who, you know, it’s… You see these stadiums and they’re like packing in crowds, 8000, 9000. When I was at Leeds, we were doing 12 – 11000, you know. But the work that it takes to get bums on seats, I was amazed at the work that goes into it, the marketing that goes into it, it was an eye opener for me. It just made me want to do it. Yeah, I’m a Warrington fan, but I had a lot of love for Leeds. And you start working with these clubs and everybody’s the same, they’re just doing it for… Yeah, they get paid, but they’re doing it for the love of the sport. Sometimes you hear Steve Ball talk about it when he does his Rugby League Cares, you know, he says Rugby League is the best family in the world. It absolutely is, it’s amazing. And to sell Rugby League, to sell tickets, I get the opportunity to sell mascots and flags, so these kids can get on the pitch and meet their heroes.

The mascots… We deal with all kinds of clubs – amateur clubs, schools, scouts, whatever. Anything we can do to get kids through the door. Again, we’re back to volunteering. These people whose kids play, they get all this money together, they get groups of hundreds to come and watch the kids, walk out, follow the teams and make a great day of it. And the player escorts that walk out, I have eighteen, we get them there and obviously when they get to me, they’re off their tiny heads with Haribo and sugar. But I love it, I do love it. And when… I’ve dealt with a lot of charities as well, and this is when I go back to the rugby league family, I’ve dealt with ones like… One that sticks out is Scottie’s Little Children – it’s kids who have lost their dads in Afghanistan and you know, we’d surprise these… They came to me and said this kid would love to walk out with their heroes. It was a Grand Final between Warrington and Wigan and I said, “Yeah, that’s no problem”. When he came up to me at the end and said, “This is the happiest day of my life”, it puts a lump in my throat, all the time. All I’m doing is I’ve just followed up a phone call and I’ve changed somebody’s life. The letters that I get and that gratitude I get for just doing my job, that’s what… It’s the best thing, it’s the best feeling in the world and these kids, you don’t realise. I’ve had grown men crying on me because their kids have walked out at the Challenge Cup and they’re rubbing the grass at Wembley, “Ohh, I’ve never done this before, this is amazing, we never got this when we were kids…” It’s opportunities, isn’t it, to grow the game and I love that part about it.

I think the next step for me is, because I’m helping at Featherstone now as a team manager in the Women’s Super League, that the Women’s Super League needs to be a commercial commodity. Obviously, we’re talking now in 2022 when this goes into the museum, I hope I can stand there and say I want Super League to be sponsored, I want it to be marketed, I want it to be a sellable thing and that people want to get involved, because it does draw crowds. You know, 1500 at Castleford the other week – there’s some Championship clubs that don’t get that. And all it is, is marketing, and good people pushing it. Social media helps massively, but word of mouth, I don’t know, it’s easy. I’d like to think in 2022 we’ll be looking at a Ladies’ World Cup Challenge, a Ladies’ Magic Weekend, a Ladies’ Summer Bash, whatever. These different events, because people want to go to them. It shouldn’t be all about Super League and the men because these women are bringing big crowds. I hope I can say that. I’ll say, “I said that”.

I got involved at Featherstone through friends of a friend. I forgot to mention, only by default, I was kit and equipment manager for the England women, so I went to France with them last year and obviously I speak to a lot of them that play, and you get friends and stuff like that. They were desperate for that extra hand at Featherstone and I spoke to Johnny, the coach, and he said, “Come and help me please” and that was that. That was word of mouth, again. It’s not something that you advertise. It’s not something that’s obvious. It’s not just that someone could say, “Yeah, I’ll be your team manager”. It’s time consuming. But yeah, for the love of the game. I think I might have that tattooed…

One of my most memorable moment was my first England game, when I went with the women, that stuck out for me, cos you know you don’t realise the work that goes into it and stuff like that. When you’re in camp, how professional it is, that stuck out at me. And you say to yourself, “I am part of this”. That was good.

Another was my first event for the Rugby League, going to Grand Final. My first one was Magic. When I went back to Leeds, I just couldn’t believe what I was involved in.

I think there’s some opportunities as well with these mascots where you think I did good there and you get a lump in your throat and nearly burst into tears. These kids are going “Thank you” and I’m like… crying.

I could probably pick loads out, but I think England and my job and giving those opportunities, they’re the main memorable ones.

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