Here's a tip: if you're going to rob a house, it may be a good idea to check that it's not full of various professional female rugby players, including one who's played for England 52 times. That was the plight of one male burglar on Nov. 18, when he broke into a house in the British town of Cinderford, Gloucestershire, only to wake up Ceri Large — who represented England on the 2014 Rugby World Cup team.
Large was, predictably, not pleased — and the world now has the joy of watching CCTV footage of the intruder promptly fleeing over a fence as Large pursues him through the yard. To make matters worse for the would-be thief, the house was filled with Large's teammates, who were staying overnight and would have made him feel just as unwelcome. The Gloucestershire Police confirmed that a man had tried to enter the house with an accomplice and they were investigating, according to Gloucestershire Live.
The man apparently got in through a door that had been left unlocked for Large's brother. Large told Gloucestershire Live that the would-be thief barely escaped unscathed: “He was a scrawny, vile little coward and I was probably bigger than him so it was lucky we didn’t catch him. You should have seen him jump over that gate. I bet he doesn't tell people he was chased away by a girl."
Her rugby teammates, she added, "said afterwards they had never heard anything like it. He just scarpered [sic]. He must have been scared because he jumped from the top of the stairs to the bottom and broke the bottom step. It's shame he didn't go right through and get stuck."
If you're not familiar with precisely why Large was a particularly bad person to attempt to rob, a bit of footage of the Rugby World Cup final that Large's side won in 2014 might give you a clue. Rugby, which has been immensely popular in England and other countries for centuries, is an extremely brutal game. In 2015, Australian college player Georgie Page was deemed the "Rugby War Goddess" when footage emerged of her playing in a match at Missouri's Lindenwood University despite an immensely gory broken nose — an injury that's actually kind of par for the course in the game. The astonished press reaction, and Page's subsequent viral fame, was largely based on the realization that women can indeed give as good as they get in a traditionally male-dominated — and very, very violent — sport.
However, rugby, like many other sports, has encountered severe difficulties with gender discrimination, with women's fixtures and tournaments comparatively underfunded and under-supported by official organizations. And women like Large and Page, despite their massive successes on the field (and in scaring off would-be criminals), face criticism for being "unfeminine" or "unladylike" because they play a difficult sport that involves aggression and physical contact. Let's not forget that our adulatory attitude towards athletic women is a relative new one: Up until 1960, the Olympic Committee wouldn't allow women to compete if they had to run distances over 200 meters in case it harmed their bodies, and international women's rugby wasn't officially sanctioned until 1998. That's less than 20 years ago.
This incident reaffirms not only that women are something to be reckoned with — professional rugby players or no — but, well, it's never a good idea to rob someone. Still, Large says that even though if she caught him, she could have "battered him," that isn't the lesson people should take away. "It’s still frightening and upsetting to know that some vile person has taken their shoes off and crept into your house in the middle of the night," Large told Gloucester Live. “If there’s a lesson to take from this it is that you should always lock your doors because these people are trying the handles looking for an easy way in.”