23-year-old Gwenllian Pyrs from Ysbyty Ifan near Betws-y-Coed, has just started on the Access to Higher Education (HE) course at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus. On completion, she plans to go to university to study midwifery.
Bangor-born Gwenllian, who trains and breeds sheepdogs at the family farm in the Conwy Valley, made her international debut for the Wales women's national rugby union team coming on as a second-half replacement against Italy in the 2017 Women’s Six Nations.
She will now have to juggle her rugby career and farming duties along with her college course. Her rugby training schedule alone is extraordinary: she travels to Manchester twice a week to train with her league club Sale Sharks; attends training at the National Centre of Excellence in Cardiff three times a week, and also completes personal fitness / weight training sessions three times a week. But, as Gwenllian says, “you don’t mind doing the long drives when you know you’re going to put the jersey on at the end of the week”.
Gwenllian’s talent for rugby was nurtured by dad Eryl and developed by the family ritual of playing no-rules rugby in the fields with her nine brothers and sisters.
She was a late starter in terms of her rugby career. Although she had played with her siblings on the farm and had kept herself in great shape by helping her dad with his everyday duties, it was not until Nant Conwy set up a girls’ under-18 side, six years ago, that she started to take things a little more seriously.
The Access to Higher Education programme is a passport to university-level study and has been provided by Coleg Llandrillo for nearly 30 years. It is a flexible programme which is designed for adults who have few, if any, school qualifications, but who wish to prepare for university-level study.
For more information on Access to Higher Education courses at Coleg Llandrillo, please contact the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.