On the back of Daisy Hibbert-Jones’ arm, the tattooed ink reads, “trust the process.” 

Above it are two koi fish, one black, one red – a species symbolising perseverance due to their ability to swim upstream. 

Recently, she added a jigsaw piece on the inside of her elbow – a nod to the Loughborough Lightning No. 8’s older brother Henry, her rugby ‘why?’, and the reason Hibbert-Jones devotes her life off the field to making the game more accessible for others. 

“Rugby for me is something that I want to make a career out of but I just love how this game has provided my parents with a bit of respite and my brother an opportunity to live a normal 25-year-old’s lifestyle,” said Hibbert-Jones. 

The Wirral-born 21-year-old grew up at local club Port Sunlight, following in the footsteps of her dad and two older brothers. 

She rose through the ranks of Ellesmere Port, then Firwood Waterloo’s Centre of Excellence while making appearances for Cheshire and North of England in between. 

Port Sunlight Rugby Club is still a mainstay for the family, a place where brother Henry, who is severely autistic and has learning difficulties was, and still is, part of the tight-knit community. 

“Henry is a massive 'why' for me,” she said. “Why I keep on going, why I’ve moved away from home to pursue rugby, why I commit so much time to it. 

“My brother has no independence, he lives at home with my mum and dad and relies heavily on them, but Port Sunlight is a trusted place for us. 

“He can go there and be a 25-year-old, play a game of rugby, have a beer with the lads after the game and not have to rely on mum and dad. 

“For him, rugby is a sense of normality and a sense of being part of a big community.”

In 2022, Hibbert-Jones was awarded Premiership Rugby’s Community Coach of the Year award for her work with Sale Sharks Community Trust, the club where she spent five years before a move to Loughborough. 

At 15, Sale’s Vicky Irwin opened the door to Hibbert-Jones, who attended additional needs rugby sessions with her brother, to volunteer. 

It led to her coaching Crusaders Fin Club which was one of the only Down's Syndrome clubs in the country at the time. 

Her community coaching career has grown since and she now coaches at Northampton Saints, alongside playing for Lightning, and is committed to making the game as inclusive as possible. 

“My next steps would be to create my own Down Syndrome rugby team at Northampton Saints,” she said. 

“It’s something I feel so passionate about and if I get a chance to talk about it, I want to put those people’s names out there. 

“Although my brother is the one who has to face adversity every day, I’m four years younger than him and sometimes I used to struggle. 

“I couldn’t understand for the life of me why he would get upset with me and it took me a long time to understand and appreciate what I can do to help. 

“I feel honoured to be able to be that relatable person to other relatives because I have been there and I understand how everyone is different.”

Kidderminster Shuttle:

On the field, Hibbert-Jones has survived some ups and down and was awarded her first Red Roses cap in October against Australia in WXV 1.

A devastating ACL, MCL and meniscus tear at 17 left her career in doubt, but she managed to undergo surgery within three weeks thanks to a £7,500 GoFundMe during the pandemic. 

“I thought my rugby career was over and I wasn’t going to get back to the standard that I was,” she said.

“The £7,500 in three weeks was from people we knew, strangers and just people that support the game. 

“To see that during a time when most people weren’t even earning money and willing to help me get back on the field made me feel so lucky.” 

She made a full recovery and was called up to England U20s the following season and, after impressing in games against Scotland and France, Loughborough came calling. 

The chance arose at 19 to train with then-England captain and fellow No.8 Sarah Hunter, and the youngster could not let the opportunity go to waste. 

“Being in that really dark place, it took a while for me to be able to switch my mindset but looking back on the whole process I realised it taught me a lot off the field,” she said. 

“‘Trust the process’ was the phrase that I used to use with my family and my coaches all the time, trusting each step, my own body and because of what I learned.”

Lightning's Young Player of the Year is well aware she has big boots to fill after Hunter’s retirement, but is determined to challenge for the No.8 jersey at club and country.

In a full circle moment, Hunter awarded Hibbert-Jones Red Roses cap #258 in New Zealand, a moment cherished by her whole family.

"It’s been a bit of a whirlwind to where we are now. It’s some really big boots to fill but I’m excited for the challenge.”