Publishing Editor Steve Rowley, talks to the rising rugby star who is on the pathway to the 2025 Rugby World Cup.
Tori Sellors’ rugby journey started at the tender age of six, when her dad took her and her twin brother – who were both at Sevenoaks Weald Primary School at the time – to their local rugby club, which happened to be Sevenoaks RFC.
When the time came to separate from the boys, Tori’s dad set up the girls section so she could continue playing and encouraged more girls to get involved in the sport.
It’s a family affair!
The whole family were involved at Sevenoaks Rugby Club at that time, with her mum working in the shop, her older brother working in the kitchen, and dad coaching her and her twin. Tori continued her journey with Sevenoaks through her early teen years, culminating with a third place at the National Finals for a hybrid Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells side known as the A21’s.
She then moved to nearby Aylesford Bulls when playing in the U16 and U17 year groups due to lack of players at her former club, something which has now thankfully been rectified. Tori went on to represent Kent from U14 to U18, before continuing in the pathway with the regional Centre of Excellence.
Rugby was always something Tori did on a Sunday, but the other days were filled with sports like trampolining, football and handball, Tori was in the Knole Academy team that made the National Finals a few years back. She then reached international status in handball when she was selected to represent Great Britain U17 and England. However, she had a big decision to make, and at just 16 years old, she left home, Aylesford RFC and Knole Academy, for Hartpury College in Gloucester.
Time at Hartpury College
Tori started at Hartpury in September of 2020 amid the heart of the pandemic, a tough time for most, but she was determined to progress her rugby passion alongside a BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science.
Just two months after moving across the country Tori was invited to take part in an England Camp where she was instantly picked out by the coaches and selected to join the England U18’s squad.
Tori at this point, however, was playing as a flanker, and the England selectors told her that if she wanted to progress in that position then she would need to gain a minimum of 15kg in muscle mass, something that no teenage girl really wants to do despite full support from the England coaches. The alternative they said, was to change her position to scrum half as they obviously saw something in her.
Tori is not one not to try new skills, so she gave it a go and really loved it. Her first game for England was to be starting as scrum half in an internal match between England North and South.
She fully admitted to her coaches that she didn’t really know what she was doing in that position, however after the game they were quietly impressed, suggesting that they would never have known she’d never played that position before.
Although sent home from college during the pandemic, Tori was keen on transitioning between positions, and thankfully for her the England U20’s coach at the time, Amy Turner, came to Kent to give one-to-one sessions at Tunbridge Wells RFC; which Tori has said was of great benefit to her.
Tori, now 17, was then selected to go to an England U20s trial and as the youngest member of the squad she was rather pleased to step up a year early at scrum half. Her first experience at this new level was a warm up match against New Zealand who were visiting the UK to play the England’s Red Roses. Suffice to say the girls lost that fixture however Tori was not actually allowed to play in the game due to her only being 17.
However the experience she received from just being at the match was excellent as the England coaches mic’d her up and allowed her to run water onto the pitch throughout the match, she commented: “It was such a wicked experience for me, just to see, and be up close with all those players that you watch on TV”.
Moving on up
The second match for the England U20’s Tori would play her first women’s game, this time in another warm up match against a South African side, having turned 18 the week before the game. Although they lost this match too, she recalls that the scoreline wasn’t too bad considering this was South Africa’s 1st XV.
The culture that South Africa brought to the game also made a lasting impression on Tori, she said: “They did a dance for us after the game, it was a musical celebration that embraced each other’s cultures, which you don’t often get at a normal rugby match. It was mad but enjoyable at the same time, so much that we danced along with them.”
Having completed her studies at Hartpury in March 2022, Tori was then offered two contracts to play rugby, one at Gloucester and one at Worcester Warriors. Wanting a change of scenery after her time in Gloucester, she travelled to Worcester for training and fell in love with the place. She then enrolled at Worcester University in September 2022 to study a four year integrated masters degree in Sports Therapy where she could study alongside her rugby aspirations.
Due to the nature of Premiership rugby, the season is split into normal league games and a cup league. This assists the ‘B’ players to continue playing whilst the ‘A’ players are away on international duty. Tori made her first Worcester Warriors appearance in a cup match not long after being signed by the club in March 2022.
Her Premiership debut came against Harlequins in September 2022, and playing in her favoured scrum half position, assisted the team to a win.
Illness after Christmas that year took its toll on Tori though and she was out of the game for two months, with a slow and steady recovery period to get back to match fitness.
Returning to the Premiership in March 2023 she then played for England U20’s versus Scotland U20’s in a double header with both national 1st XV’s.
A home and away fixture against France followed, and although they lost both matches, it was a huge experience for Tori and her colleagues.
Looking forward to World Cup Rugby
Tori is now 19 years old and is about to enjoy her third contracted season with a Premiership team. She is the first pick as scrum half for the England U20’s squad and is currently injury and illness free.
Tori reflected on her journey so far saying: “Every time I take to the field, I am building my talent and personal resilience, although I am really competitive at the same time, it is just sport at the end of the day.”
Tori is a girl with a sensible and strong head on her shoulders, and with the Women’s Rugby World Cup being hosted in England in 2025, she is aligning all her stars to make her dream a reality. We wouldn’t bet against her starting in England’s opener at Twickenham come September 2025!
• With Tori’s vigorous training sessions and matches each Saturday throughout the season, it doesn’t leave her a lot of time to earn some much needed funds for university, she must sleep too! Therefore, if you, your business, or someone you know, would like to support Tori throughout her rugby journey, then please do get in touch with her team at Athlete Media (details below). You will be supporting a local West Kent girl who has all the character attributes and rugby-related aspirations to make the next generation of athletes our stars of the future.
If you or your business would like to support Tori on her journey through rugby then please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call 07952 304340.