Mud, Maul, Mascara: How I Led My Country, and Lived to Tell the Tale

Catherine Spencer was the captain of the England women’s rugby team for three years. 

She scored eighteen tries for England, won six of the eight Six Nations competitions she took part in, and captained her team to three championship titles, a European cup, two Nations Cup tournament victories and the World Cup final held on home soil in 2010, which thrust women’s rugby into the limelight. 

All of this while holding down a full-time job, because the women’s team, unlike the men’s, did not get paid for their sport.

About the author

Catherine Spencer is a former captain of the England women's rugby team. She has written for mainstream and rugby media, and appeared as a studio pundit and commentator for the BBC and Sky Sports. She was named England Player Of The Year in 2006, and received a Rugby Union Writers' Club Special Award in 2011. She is the founder of the speaker agency Inspiring Women.

Read More

Why We Like It

  • Mud, Maul, Mascara is painfully honest about the mental struggles Catherine faced during, and after, her career as an elite athlete.
  • Warm, Funny and Inspirational
  • A book for anyone who has ever had a dream, or self-doubt, or a yearning for a really good, mud-proof mascara.

Catherine Spencer has a degree in philosophy, an impressive collection of handbags, and 63 England caps under her belt. She started playing mini rugby at her local club in Folkestone, aged 8; won the title of Most Improved Player at 11; and went on to captain her country for three years. 

After retiring from international rugby in 2011, Catherine founded the speaker agency Inspiring Women, a company designed to share women's stories of determination, belief, focus, trust, leadership, communication, teamwork and sacrifice with organisations who could benefit from them. Their motto is “Inspire. Believe. Achieve.” She is now a patron of the charity Tag Rugby Trust, a Kent Ambassador, helping to promote the county, an ambassador for Shepway Sports Trust and an associate with Switch the Play. She is currently putting together a new women’s team at Old Elthamians Rugby Club.

How it works

The book will be delivered in 10 instalments (or staves), one every day. The instalments are delivered to your Pigeonhole bookshelf on your IOS or Android app, plus you can read on our web reader. You will receive an email letting you know when each stave is available.

We believe that shared reading leads to new ideas and connections. That’s why we have a dynamic commenting system which allows in-text discussion between our readers. Post a comment and all your fellow readers will be able to respond. You can also choose to receive notifications (customise them here) when someone responds to your comment, or, additionally, whenever a comment is left in the book.

As you read you will see round purple icons at the edge of certain paragraphs – tap on these to reveal behind-the-scenes extra content!

Links will be included at the end of the final stave which will allow you to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. The full book will be available on your Pigeonhole bookshelf for one month for you to read at your leisure. 

Any questions? Drop us a line on


Join our commmunity of readers or read with friends in your own private book club.


And read it in bite-sized instalments – called staves – that fit busy modern lives.


Save your favourite bits and leave thoughts to connect with fellow readers.


Beautiful extras in the margins immerse you in the world of each book.

More about us