How St Helens star made Challenge Cup history despite tonsillitis diagnosis a day before final

AUGUST 12, 2023, is the day St Helens and Tara Jones wrote their names in the history books.

That was the day the club became the first Women’s team to lift the Challenge Cup trophy under the arch of Wembley Stadium after beating Leeds Rhinos 22-8 in the biggest club match in the history of the women’s game so far in this country. 

It was Jones who opened the scoring for Saints, crossing after 12 minutes to become the first ever female try scorer at the national stadium. So it doesn’t surprise that the day is etched into the memory of the 27-year-old.

“I was actually really poorly that weekend and was diagnosed with tonsillitis the morning that we set off down to London,” reveals Jones.

“But I was always going to find a way to play and would have needed to be pinned to my death bed not to play at Wembley. 

“The day was a bit of a blur but the ultimate memory was lifting that trophy and knowing that we had succeeded at Wembley.

“I was sharing a room with Zoe (Harris) and we were saying on the morning of the game how crazy it be for whoever scored the first try at Wembley, so when I did it, it was “wow, that’s me” and that is something no one will ever take away from me.

“But I have got a lot of my team mates to thanks for gettine me that recognnition. If they hadn’t all dug and done the hard work, I would not have been in the position to touch down for that special try.”

Having already created such great memories in the capital, Jones and her team-mates are ready to do it all again this year as the Challenge Cup action gets underway this weekend.

St Helens are in Group Three in the first stage of the competition, going up against Bradford Bulls, London Broncos and Warrington Wolves, before the top two sides progress to the quarter-finals when the knockout games begin.

A win at Wembley would see Saints win their fourth consecutive Challenge Cup Final, but they know they have a job to do before they can even think about creating that little piece of history.

“To go four in a row is one of our ultimate aims as a group,” added Jones.

“We got a taste of it last year and we want to go and relive it all over again.

“But we can’t underestimate anyone. People can make up their own mind on what they think will happen in a game, but we know we can’t take our foot off the pedal in any of the group games.

“If we do, we’ll be sat at home on June 8, not playing at Wembley – we have to treat every game as we would a final.”