Rugby Director Corne du Rand spoke with Tim Lawn about the Girls sections of London Scottish last week and found out how they are blossoming and heard some of Tim’s proudest moments since being involved with the set up.
1. How long have you and Steph been involved with London Scottish and managing our Girls Rugby? Our daughter moved to the Club when she was 11 and Steph and I started helping Ross Peacock with the girls squad about four years ago.
2. The club started with a small group of girls in 2012. There were 4 to 6 that turned up regularly then. What numbers do you currently have across all three age groups U13, U15 and U18? Currently 3 at U13, 1 at U15 and 12 at U18.
3. Are those girls that started with us in 2012 still with us playing regular rugby? Of the few that started in 2012 there are still 4 all currently playing in the U18 squad.
4. Apart from the healthy numbers what would you say has been key in maintaining a healthy environment for the girls to develop, enjoy and achieve? I think the key is providing a balance of activities that suits all three age groups and addresses the needs of new joiners who can be complete beginners and also the experienced girls who are looking to progression and pathway. A mix of fun training, specific skills work and match exposure.
5. As a girls section we cluster with another club? Can you explain who we cluster with, how it came about, how this works and what are the benefits? We recognised early on that it would be difficult to grow completely organically and that in order to provide meaningful activities (as noted above) we needed to be working with a large enough group of players. Joint club clusters are common in the girls game and off the back of a couple of joint training sessions is was apparent that we shared a similar approach to the girls game as the management team at Old Emanuel RFC and they were prepared to agree to work together with us from the start of the 15/16 season. The benefits are simply being able to run training with a big enough group to be meaningful and to be able to field teams in matches.
6. As team management what are the proudest achievements so far for this group of girls, the team management and for individuals in the group? Personal highlights are; 1) a girl who joined two and half years ago as a novice getting picked this season to play girls county rugby for Middlesex, 2) from providing girls as ball team for Richmond Women on a Sunday afternoon to providing the ball team at the Women’s Premiership Final at the Stoop two years ago and then off the back of that being used by the RFU to provide ball team for England Women’s matches at the Stoop and finally, 3) having two girls that we have worked with making the progression to playing senior womens rugby with Richmond this season.
7. On the 7th of January this year we had a Warriors session for girls at Richmond Athletic Ground? What was the session about and who was involved on the day? This is an RFU initiative to encourage increased female (junior & senior) participation in rugby. It was planned as a taster session, to be welcoming and involving for anyone coming along to try rugby for the first time. Our RFU community coaching coordinator assisted with the coaching as well as the head community coaches from both London Scottish and Richmond and womens/girls coaches from both clubs.
8. We have a strong link and relationship with Richmond Ladies. What does it mean for both clubs and the players and how does it work? We have forged the link because of the common goals of female rugby participation. It is a loose mutual relationship, we provide girls for ball team for their premiership games and they assist us with occasional training and match preparation and we collaborate on one off events such as the Warrior session. Experienced and competent junior girls are also able to participate in the non-contact elements of the senior womens training sessions from which they get mentoring and motivation and can see the pathway for their progression.
8. What is up next for the teams and how can girls get involved playing rugby here at London Scottish? We have a programme of training and matches through to the end of the season including some 10s and 7s festivals in April/May and maybe a trip back to the coast for some beach rugby which we tried out for the first time last year. Our training sessions are always open to new players and we can accommodate beginners in with the experienced girls.
9. Lastly what does the future look like for girls rugby in your opinion, especially here at London Scottish and what is imperative so that we can we continue the great work and great partnerships we have? The future for female rugby looks great with increasing exposure (and success) for the flagship England Women’s 15s and 7s teams and the new club level Tyrells Premiership. These are the kind of things we hope will provide the role models and motivation for new generations of girls to start playing the game of rugby which we all know can be such great fun and rewarding. The Club’s community and schools engagement is really important in supporting this at London Scottish and we want to demonstrate that you can start playing rugby as a girl at Richmond Athletic Ground age 5/6 and go all the way through to 18+.