Acheson comes out of retirement to join Chiefs Women

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Former England and Bristol prop Sasha Acheson has come out of retirement to join Exeter Chiefs Women.

Known for her dynamism on the pitch, ‘Bam Bam’ Acheson retired from the sport in 2019 having played for England and four Premiership clubs.

Happy playing at loose and tighthead, she had already made a comeback following a supposed career-ending injury in 2014. At the time, she was the youngest England front-row in history and was due to head off to the Rugby World Cup, but the knee injury prevented her from going to France and she spent more than three years rehabilitating to return to play.

Acheson has played for Saracens, Gloucester, Bristol, and Worcester at club level. The last game she featured in was for the Barbarians against Wales in 2019. She then decided to retire to follow her dream of becoming a parent with her partner Joey. They now have a three-year-old daughter and a four-week-old son.

In 2021, she became the head coach at Bristol Bisons RFC, the South West’s first inclusive rugby team, taking them from the bottom of the IGR Southern League to champions. However, a visit to Sandy Park to watch Chief Women play Sale Sharks Women reignited her desire to play again.

Acheson said: “Last year, I took my little girl to her first women’s rugby game at Sandy Park. I met up with Susie and she was so warm, welcoming, and excited to see me. She said, ‘If

you want to come back and play, you will be welcome here.’

“Susie introduced me to Steve (Salvin – assistant coach) and told him I was one of the original dynamic props. She also told me there was a big shortage of props in England. That made my ears prick up and it’s been in my head ever since.

“Then this year, some coaches had been asking me to come out of retirement. Exeter Chiefs were an easy choice.”

Appleby said: “It’s great to welcome Sasha back to the game, and I’m glad she has chosen Chiefs. The game has changed a lot in four years, but Sasha likes a challenge and I’m sure she will embrace it; she will be training with and playing alongside some of the best props in the world. Our players are fantastic and with their support and a fantastic coach like Steve, she could not be in a better place to make her comeback.”

The 32-year-old added: “I want to play rugby again. How can I tell the guys I coach, and my daughter and son, to chase their dreams and that anything is possible, if I never fulfilled and finished chasing mine?

“I've had a breather. I'm a different person to the one who retired in 2019, and I've learned more about the game and myself through coaching. I know I'm definitely not done. I’ve got fuel needing a fire and I'm so excited to light it down west."

Imagery: Welsh Si’s Photography

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