Rugby World Cup: Bryony Cleall says she felt her family were let down after England failed


Bryony Cleall (right) gives her sister Poppy feedback after the World Cup matches
Place: Eden Park, Auckland Date: November 12, Saturday Start: 06:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live; follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app; watch live on ITV

Bryony Cleall says she felt she had let down her “nearest and dearest” when she wasn’t named in England’s World Cup squad alongside twin sister Poppy.

But he didn’t championship team – and he had to watch the progress to the final from home.

“You feel like you let them down,” Cleall, who has seven caps, told BBC Sport.

“They want the best for you and you feel like you haven’t.”

Cleall, 30, said being asked by Wasps coach LJ Lewis if he had told his parents about his failure was “the part that sent me over the edge”.

“It wasn’t about talking to him and telling him,” he said. “That was the part that hits home … that was the worst part I think.”

‘He cried and I cried’

Choosing Simon Middleton’s team caused mixed emotions for Cleall, who was rejected but his twin sister was at the final party.

Players were given a choice of how they would find out if they had been selected, and Cleall asked to be told via text message.

When the message arrived, he called his sister, and went to her house armed with pizza, cookies and wine.

“We looked around,” Cleall said. “He cried and I cried and then he said, ‘I wouldn’t be here because I didn’t think this was an incident.’

“We ate pizza and cookies and drank wine, so it wasn’t a bad night in the end. But that was tough. They’re the hardest part of it all. It’s not even your disappointment, it’s the people around you.”

Cleall is traveling to New Zealand this week for Saturday’s final against the tournament hosts, and his sister has helped pay for his flights.

He knows that there will be conflicting emotions, but he says that he will “never lose”.

“I’ve never missed a moment when Poppy was on the rugby field,” he said. “To get his first cap, I went to Italy.

“I’d be lying if there weren’t going to be tears for a lot of different reasons. It’s going to be a crazy situation.

“I’ve never been to New Zealand, let alone Eden Park, let alone a sold-out Eden Park. It’s going to be incredible. I’m sure there’s going to be a ridiculous amount of excitement.”

The Cleall sisters have played together for both club – Saracens – and country, but never at the World Cup together.

Cleall, who He signed for Harlequins on Monday, he described it as a “missing piece of the game” and said it gave him more motivation to take part in the 2025 World Cup.

He said: “Someone said to me the other day, ‘What are you going to do?’ I’m not at a crossroads, but this year I reached out and thought, “I wonder what I’m going to do. How do I plan my career after rugby now that I’ve just turned 30?”

“I thought maybe I would go into coaching or start that kind of teaching career. But now I’m like, ‘No. I have three more years to finish that puzzle and finish the memories I have with my sister.’

“It’s definitely put a little more fire in the belly and we’re looking at another three years.”

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