England fly-half overcame crippling anxiety to become star player and Instagram model - Ruck

England fly-half overcame crippling anxiety to become star player and Instagram model

Whether it has been overcoming social anxiety or her adult acne, Holly Aitchison has overcome a number of personal challenges to become the person and player she is today.

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Main image credit: Hollie’s Instagram

Clinique, in collaboration with Aitchison, have embarked on a mission to embolden young girls to embrace confidence through the fusion of sports and skincare.

Research from the brand indicates that a significant proportion of teenagers, standing at 25%, grapple with low self-esteem, with a noteworthy 79% of them being girls.

In a notable study conducted by the charity Ruling Our Experience, it was found that participation in team sports, notably rugby, yields a positive impact on the self-esteem of 90% of young girls.

In an earnest response to these findings, Clinique launches its #GameFace initiative, designed to amplify the influence and recognition of sports, particularly rugby, in enhancing the well-being of girls.

The campaign pledges support packages to four grassroots girls’ rugby clubs, endowing each with up to £10,000 worth of resources, spanning equipment, educational tools, and travel funding.

Fronting this noble cause is Six Nations luminary Holly Aitchison, who will share her personal journey of overcoming self-esteem hurdles and underline the transformative power of both rugby and skincare in bolstering girls’ confidence.

Aitchison, 25, candidly admits to her own skin struggles, citing blemishes as a significant obstacle to her confidence.

“Over the years I’ve really struggled with my skin. I had blemishes everywhere – it had a massive hit on my confidence,” she disclosed.

“I wouldn’t take media interviews after games, I would never be seen without makeup.

“Now my skin is clear, I feel much more confident, so I really try to look after it and maintain it with simple products that work for me.”

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Given Holly’s familial background with her father Ian being a former England U20 and Saxons player as well as Waterloo’s director of rugby, it made perfect sense for her to pursue rugby.

Aitchison herself boasts an impressive resume, having represented England in various capacities, including age-grade levels, the HSBC World Sevens Series, and even at the Olympic Games for Team GB.


Joining Saracens in 2020 marked the beginning of her remarkable journey, highlighted by scoring a try during her England 15s debut in 2021. This momentum carried her to the starting lineup for the 2021 Rugby World Cup final and secured her a spot in Simon Middleton’s Six Nations squad in 2023.

Demonstrating her prowess, she played a pivotal role in the Red Roses’ victorious campaign at the inaugural WXV1 tournament in New Zealand. Now, Holly’s achievements continue to flourish as she recently earned a place in John Mitchell’s squad for the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Follow her on Instagram here.