RUGBY is not just a sport for Reading teenager Fern Edgar – it is also the saviour of her time in education.

The 18-year-old was on the cusp of being kicked out of school earlier on in her secondary life, with bad behaviour in the classroom threatening to derail life off the pitch.

But with a word of advice from a PE teacher came a second chance for the now Maiden Erlegh School student, one which she has not looked back from.

Indeed, that opportunity has taken the talented flanker all the way to international honours, representing England and offering her a pathway she struggled to believe was possible.

“My PE teacher opened up and said rugby would really benefit me – teach me some sportsmanship, some discipline,” said the Reading Abbey forward.

“I ended up playing and captaining my school and then started at my local club. In the first season I got county and then regional level and realised I was half good at it.

“I went into Under 18s and again just carried on the pathway and got my debut for England U18s the other day.

“I want to go into playing in the Premier 15s this season and get trials for the U20s, but we’ll see.

“Everyone says they want to play for England one day, but I want to be coaching, to open my own coaching club as well. I’ve been coaching since I was 13, which is something I really enjoy.”

Her cause is also being helped by SportsAid and the Backing The Best programme, which offers critical financial help to talented young athletes who would otherwise face difficulties progressing through their sport’s system.

Backed by £5.5 million of National Lottery funding, Backing The Best presents annual awards of £5,000 per athlete to help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation, kit, nutrition and medical bills.

Edgar was one of dozens of SportsAid athletes who attended workshops at The London Stadium, offering media training, nutrition advice, performance lifestyle guidance and support for parents.

Backing The Best is helping talented young athletes facing the greatest financial pressure to pursue their sporting ambitions. The programme, managed by SportsAid for Sport England, is supported by National Lottery funding. Visit to find out more.