ONE of the country’s best-ever women’s rugby players has lost none of her passion since hanging up her boots.

Jo Yapp, who grew up in Clee Hill, won 70 caps for England, skippered her country and played in three World Cups.

The ex-Worcester player retired from the international scene in 2009 and decided to blow the final whistle on her domestic career last year.

The 32-year-old is now heavily involved in coaching.

Earlier this year, Jo guided the Exeter University’s women’s rugby team to their maiden BUCS final at Twickenham.

And she has just been appointed an athlete mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport and will be speaking to secondary school pupils in the South West of England.

“I love rugby - the freedom that comes with running with the ball and the tactics in the game,” said Jo, who now lives in Exeter and gave birth to her first child Megan, four months ago.

“I started playing for Ludlow before going to Worcester where I remained for the rest of my career.”

Jo, a level two-qualified rugby coach, was England’s player of the year in 2003 and won the England Sevens’ honour in 2009.

“Sport has developed me as a person,” said Jo, who is married to Alan Hubbleday, the ex-England Schools and England Colts international who coached the Worcester Women’s team.

“I have become more confident and in doing so I have achieved things I never thought was possible.”

Jo’s sporting career meant she had to learn how to balance study and sport, entering the 1998 World Cup while she was revising for her A-levels at Ludlow College.

“I went on to be the first member of my family to go to university where I became a qualified teacher while simultaneously having a successful rugby career,” said Jo.

“One of my biggest achievements was captaining my country. Standing up and leading a group of players was a great feeling.”

Jo has coached the under-15 South West girls’ side and visited Israel last year to coach women’s rugby.

Her dad Roddy used to play rugby for Tenbury and coached at Clee Hill, while her brother Tony played for Worcester.

She is looking forward to her new Sky Sports role which will be delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust.

“I have learned that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and I look forward to bringing my experiences to this role.

“The programme allows me to deliver to all students - not just those interested in sport.”

Jo is also excited about the future of women’s rugby in this country.

“Last year we had the World Cup in England and, for the first time, all of the matches were televised,” said Jo.

“The profile of the sport was raised last year and with the Sevens going to be in the Olympics in 2016, the women’s game will get greater exposure.

“The England Women’s team are second in the world.

They lost in the final of last year’s World Cup to New Zealand.”