800 NEW PLAYERS INTRODUCED TO RUGBY THROUGH LATEST WARRIOR CAMPS
• Hear from new player Steph Abelwhite who attended a Warrior Camp last month
• To find a rugby club near you to go www.findrugby.com
Over 800 new female rugby players took part in Warrior Camps across the country last month, adding to the thousands whom have participated in rugby taster sessions throughout the year.
‘Inner Warrior’ is the RFU’s latest women and girls campaign and forms part of a four year strategy looking at ways to encourage new female players into the game. The latest Warrior Camps coincided with the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, where the women narrowly lost out to New Zealand in the final following inspiring displays of rugby across the tournament.
Sabrina McGill, Chester Devas RFC women and girls coach believes the world cup played a massive role in generating interest shown at the camps.
“With the buzz around the World Cup, we had lots of people get in touch,” said 39-year-old McGill.
“It’s all been really positive and we’re really happy with how it’s all gone.
“This season we are hoping to put out a development squad for all the new women who have come in and we hope they’ll play six to ten friendly games this season. It will be a bit of fun to ensure the players aren’t put off by jumping into a league fixture.
“We also have excellent links with the University of Chester. We had some girls turn up who have gone away to university and want to try rugby, whereas others have just played a bit of tag before and wanted to try out some contact. Rugby truly offers something for everyone.”
Cobham RFC women’s and girls’ head coach, Vicky Alexander, described their Warrior Camp on August 23 as a huge success.
“In total, we had 58 women turn up to our warrior camp – 14 of who had never picked up a rugby ball before and were brand new to the game,” said Alexander, who works as a full-time rugby coach.
“We even created an ‘Inner Warrior’ WhatsApp group to keep the flow of banter going and encourage them to come back. We wanted to make it as social, fun and exciting as possible.”
And Alexander believes the camp – which was the first for its kind at Cobham this year – could be the turning point as she embarks upon her own mission of bolstering the ranks in the women’s senior set-up.
“I want to see more girls transition from under-18 level to the women’s side, which we are establishing this year. I hope to have established a women’s sevens side by Christmas, which I will then develop into a full squad of fifteen for next year.”
And New-Zealand-born Alexander, who enjoyed a two-year playing stint with Wasps before turning her hand to coaching, says this summer’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland also played a pivotal role in motivating her club to strive to new heights.
“The impact that the World Cup had on them has just been inspirational. We took 48 parents and girls to Belfast to watch a bit of it and they just loved it. They turned up and watched and thought, ‘I could be there. That could be me in four years’ time,’” said Alexander.
As part of the 2017-21 funding agreement with Sport England, the RFU is looking to significantly expand the number of women and girls participating in rugby across England and the Warrior Camps are instrumental in supporting this growth.
Clare Cooper, RFU Women and Girls Growth Manager, said “Since launching the campaign at the start of this year we’ve had three two-week Warrior Camp windows running at hundreds of rugby clubs across the country, encouraging new players to try contact rugby. The sessions have been a massive success and we’ve seen a large number go on to play regularly at their local clubs which is exactly what we hoped to achieve when we launched the campaign at the beginning of the year.”
The next set of Warrior Camps will take place in January 2018. To register your interest to attend an August Warrior Camp, go to www.englandrugby.com/innerwarrior or to find a rugby club near you, go to www.findrugby.com.