Northumberland has many miles between rugby clubs and relatively few of them compared to some other Constituent Bodies of the RFU. But when it comes to growing the game for women and girls, they are certainly not letting the acres of grass grow under their feet.
Six Northumberland clubs have launched women’s teams in the past three years, and now there’s a trio of females in leading roles, including Northumberland RFU President, Ruth Scott, their representative on the RFU Council, Penny Stewart and their Chair, Lucy Armstrong. The senior roles being taken on by women is very good news for a county, where more and more clubs are running women’s teams.
Former Red Roses captain, Sarah Hunter, whose first rugby union club was Novocastrians in Northumberland, remains hugely supportive of the women’s and girls’ game in the county and was a teammate of the new President.
PRESIDENT PRESENTS LIFE MEMBERSHIP TO SARAH HUNTER
Ruth Scott, the incoming President, and a real ambassador for the women’s game said: “Having been involved with rugby in Northumberland for many years, it is a great honour to take over the presidency, and such a privilege to be the first female to hold the position. It was a particularly special moment to award Sarah Hunter with her Honorary Life Membership of Northumberland, given that I played alongside her as she first started her rugby journey. She has been such an inspiration to many, both on and off the pitch.”
“Due to the growth of women’s and girls’ rugby in the county, I fully anticipate that more and more Committee and Board positions will be held by women in the future, and I am sure there will be more female presidents to follow. I am looking forward to the beginning of the season and continuing the work of my predecessor, Ken Fairbairn, with the support of the rest of my presidential team.”
FROM RUGBY MUM TO RFU COUNCIL MEMBER
Penny Stewart was also the first female Northumberland RFU Council member.
She said: “It’s a huge privilege to be the first female representative for Northumberland on the RFU Council, a position which is voted for by the clubs. It’s a great responsibility and a huge honour to be involved with shaping the sport for the future. I’ve met some wonderful, inspiring people on my journey and have been involved with some thought-provoking and game-changing projects. The role is really what you make of it but the more you put in, the more rewarding it feels.
“My club visits around Northumberland are something I look forward to each year. It’s great to catch up with what’s happening on the ground and also catch a game. Whether it’s been at Twickenham or in Northumberland, I have been made to feel welcome and that’s crucial for the growth of our sport as a whole.
“When I first got involved with rugby some 20 years ago as a ‘rugby mum’, I never imagined I would end up as an RFU Council Member. It definitely shows that rugby is now a game for all, both on and off the field. It’s with great pride that I see our women’s and girls’ game growing and more females taking up leadership roles, working alongside their male counterparts.
“The RFU continues its crucial work to ensure inclusion and diversity is embedded in our culture, providing a diverse range of opinions and skills. We all, however, share one passion – rugby union.”
Article & Photo Credit: England Rugby