Art teacher Ashley Crane is a picture of beauty as a Miss England contestant – after her promising RUGBY career was cut short by injury.
The scrummy 22 year-old dreamed of sporting fame when she shone at university and in a Dubai 7s tournament.
The stunning 6ft blonde was tipped as a future star of the womens’ game until a serious shoulder injury forced her to quit.
Ashley left Loughborough University as a qualified teacher and now works at St John’s School in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Last week she swapped her rugby boots for stilettos as she entered her first beauty pageant – and walked away with the Miss Surrey crown.
The title puts her in the running for the Miss England national contest next month.
Ashley, from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, said: “It was weird because I was a tomboy and had my head in the game for so long. I thought I had lost my grace.
“I always had the same dress I would chuck on for special events and I’d do my hair
“I’d never get glammed up but you do pageants and you realise how important that is for a girl.
“I loved it from the beginning, you are with all the girls and they were all so chilled out.
“I was over the moon when they called my name at Miss Surrey. I just couldn’t believe it.
“Now I am just buzzing for Miss England, I can’t wait.
“There are a few obstacles before the competition but I just have to train well and get the right nutrition.”
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Ashley had always been sporty but only started playing rugby when she was 17 and scored two tries on her debut for a local team.
She picked up the sport at university and was thrown straight into the first team and took part in the Dubai 7s tournament in summer 2012 as part of a social team.
Her side reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by the Kazakhstani national team.
But it was Ashley’s last tournament as she injured her right shoulder at trials for the Midlands.
She faced the choice of spending #6,000 on a private op or two years on the NHS waiting list and reluctantly gave up the game.
Ashley added: “When I first started my mum really didn’t want me to play and I didn’t realise I had the potential to be good.
“The Dubai 7s massively encouraged me to play professionally. I took so much pride in the fact I was good at what I was doing.
“You get bashed about a lot and you just deal with it. It is an old school mentality of just getting on with it.
“I basically took the tackle and I went down on my shoulder. I thought it was a dead arm at first but it was actually torn tissue.
“It is something that can be repaired with keyhole surgery and some pins but it’s either a two year wait on the NHS or #6,000 if you go private.
“I didn’t have the money or savings to drop in to and I didn’t want to wait around for the surgery.
“The first two months were some of the hardest of my life but then I decided to put it all behind me.”
Friends persuaded a reluctant Ashley to take to the catwalk and she she was stunned when she was hand-picked from more than a hundred hopefuls to be named Miss Surrey.
If she wins the Miss England competition she could be set to win #25,000, a trip to Mauritius and a place in Miss World.
Ashley is fundraising for Beauty with a Purpose, a charity that helps childen in poverty around the world.
She has already completed a 120 mile day-long bike ride and donations can be made at www.virginmoneygiving.com/