Showing posts with label Richmond. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richmond. Show all posts

Friday, 11 October 1996

Hot Pursuits: Mud, sweat and tears - Jill Turner tackles the tough reality of women's rugby

The first person I see when I turn up at Richmond Football Club in London to try my hand at women's rugby is a girl with her arm in a sling. This does not look good. 'What happened?' I ask. 'Oh, I had an operation on the ligaments.' 'Not a rugby injury then,' I say with relief. 'Oh yes. My shoulder kept falling out, dislocating,' she says brightly, 'so I had this done to pull it all together again.' Yes, rugby union chicks are hardy lasses. But contrary to popular belief, rugby-playing women do not look like Brian Moore with long hair. In fact many of the women's squad at Richmond RFC are pretty and petite, some even with pretty pink gum shields.

But ladylike they are not, at least not out on the pitch. In reflection of this the coach, JD, refers to them as 'guys'. Down here on the park femininity is purely effeminate.'Come on guys,' JD yells as we trot up and down, 'put a bit of pace into it.' This is okay, a bit of running about, I think. But it is only the start. Introducing the ball makes things a lot more complicated. Passing behind, passing over people's heads, passing and skipping round the back of a player to receive the ball before passing again.

'Talk to each other guys!' This doesn't mean have a little chat. This means scream someone's name and then hurl the ball ferociously at their guts.

'Always stay behind the ball, be back from the person who's passing to you,' Sophie the scrum-half tells me as I go haring off potentially handing penalties to the opposition. Still, apart from that, passing and catching goes quite well. I don't drop the ball. This I'm told is called having 'good hands'.

Tackling practice comes next. I'm expected to launch myself into the air at a large inflated column rather like a punchbag. 'Annihilate him at the ankles,' yells JD. I do my best and end up on my face in the mud with a very sore side. 'Nice job,' says JD. I'm flattered.

I always thought rugby players wore gum shields to protect their teeth from flying fists. I find out the hard way that they're worn because, when tackling, you are likely to drive your front teeth hard into your bottom lip. I now have the fat mouth to prove it.

Tackling a person turns out to be much harder than tackling a bag. At 5ft 7in, with a swimmer's broad shoulders, I'm not a small girl, and many of the Richmond ladies are tinier than me. But tackling a woman is strangely painful. The key is to go in with your shoulder, grab them round the thighs and lean on them as they go down, using them to cushion your fall. Women are supposed to be lighter and, well, softer, than men, but in this situation they're not.

Women's rugby is just like men's rugby really. Lots of yelling, swearing, mud, sweat and collisions. Even the changing room has a masculine atmosphere - communal showers, hearty banter, women walking around in unselfconscious states of undress.

Although the female sex sometimes looks with indulgence at male stupidity in running around after a piece of inflated leather, they too can be capable of such single-minded foolishness. When you're out there, you don't worry that it might be a comical and pointless exercise. You just care about getting that ball forward.

But soon it begins to pour with rain. Hot bodies start to steam, and my enthusiasm dampens. The woman with the sling is watching from the touchline. 'Perfect rugby weather,' she says beaming. I'm cold, I'm bruised, I have mud on my legs, in my hair, in my ears, in my mouth and all over my face.

And now I'm going to get soaked as well. Behind me the injured player is relishing every moment, wishing she was out there again. I begin to wonder for her sanity.

Later, in a welcome hot bath, I reflect that there are two things that surprised me about rugby. Firstly, it's so complicated. There are so many things to remember - always get behind the ball, don't get on your knees when picking it up from the ground, and so on - nearly 180 pages of rules. Not a sport for the witless.

The second was that it's actually quite fun. Despite a fat lip and being soaked through, I'd had quite a good time. Everyone accepts that boys will be boys and enjoy mucking about getting scraped and bruised. But what's often overlooked is that the girls used to enjoy a bit of rough and tumble, and some occasionally still do. Oh, and there's a major fringe benefit in taking up women's rugby. After training, the clubhouse is always full of players from the men's team.

Jill Turner played rugby at Richmond Football Club. Telephone: 0181-332 7112.

Source Citation
"Hot Pursuits: Mud, sweat and tears - Jill Turner tackles the tough reality of women's rugby." Guardian [London, England] 11 Oct. 1996

Sunday, 9 April 1995

National Cup final: preview


WHEN Richmond and Wasps run on to the Stoop Memorial Ground for the Vladivar Cup Final at 3pm today, at least half a dozen of the players will have a distinct sense of deja vu. For it was a decade ago, when the women's game was in its infancy, that these teams met in the first final across the road, on the hallowed turf of Twickenham.

On that occasion Wasps, the longest-established women's side in Britain, won in style, but according to the form book they will be hard put to repeat their victory this time. Richmond are packed with highly experienced internationals, including Sue Dorrington, Jenny Chambers and Deirdre Mills, and unbeaten this season.

The Wasps' right wing, Cheryl Stennett, helped England reach the 1994 world championship final, although she was not in the team that defeated the holders, the United States, to lift the trophy. She is bullish about her team's chances this afternoon, despite their underdog status.

'We've been training hard; twice a week together as a squad and then doing individual training programmes that we're given,' she says. 'We quite like being underdogs for the final because it puts the pressure on Richmond. Although they've beaten us narrowly a couple of times this season, both losses were during our bad run of injuries and now we're almost back to full strength.'

The women's game is booming at all levels. From small beginnings in the early Eighties, there are now nearly 140 teams and more than 5,000 senior players competing regularly, plus hundreds of youngsters involved in 'New Image' rugby, a less physical version of the sport.

Stennett, aged 32, a PE teacher at the South Bank International School in west London, is an enthusiastic ambassador for women's rugby and hopes to introduce it to her pupils next season. 'When I first tried rugby as a student at Bedford PE College, the thrill of being able to run with the ball and the challenge of the handling and teamwork got me hooked straight away.

'International standards have risen so much over the past few years that men watching top women's sides playing for the first time are almost always surprised by just how well they play. I think far more people now know that women's rugby exists, and when they see us in action they realise we've got a skill level and are effective decision-makers.'

She believes the key is to be accepted not as surrogate men but as women playing rugby. 'Some of the rubbish that's written, like a recent Daily Express article that said it wasn't a suitable game for women because it was a contact sport, makes me furious. I'm glad to say that the Wasps' prop Jeff Probyn, who got a lot of flak for saying he wouldn't want a girlfriend of his looking like a woman rugby player, has since apologised to us. He claims he said it jokily off the cuff - he hasn't dared to try coaching us yet, though!

'I just want to prove what we can do in the cup final. We'll be going in there with an open mind, but we're quietly confident and know that if all goes well we can certainly win it.'

Source Citation
"Upbeat wing with a sting: Sally Jones assesses the form for the women's rugby union cup final today." Observer [London, England] 9 Apr. 1995

Friday, 3 April 1992

National Cup final

The Women's Rugby Football Union holds the final of its national cup competition at Blackheath on Sunday. Richmond meet Saracens in a repeat of last year's final, which Saracens won 11-8. Richmond won a recent league match between the sides 7-6.

Monday, 9 April 1990

Barry Trowbridge

Richmond 3 Wasps 10

IT TOOK Wasps until the 49th minute of the second half to take firm control of the Women's Rugby Football Union National Cup final at the Rosslyn Park ground at Roehampton yesterday although any result other than their victory, by a try and two dropped goals to a penalty goal would have been a travesty.

Until that point, when Helen Harding, the Wasps scrum half, linked with her No.8, Heather Stirrup, to score in the right hand corner Richmond were always in with a statistical chance of stealing the day, although given that they spent all but minutes of the last hour in their own half, it never looked all that likely.

Karen Almond, the England and Great Britain captain and Wasps stand off, was the difference between the teams. Deadly accurate with her tactical kicking, she always had plenty of time to consider the options and invariably chose correctly. Her personal tally was the two dropped goals after 25 minutes and two minutes into the eight added on at the end of the first period; she narrowly missed three more attempts.

Richmond opened enthusiastically and were rewarded with a penalty goal by Deirdre Mills, their stand off, after four minutes but Wasps were soon into their stride and took territorial control they were never to lose despite Richmond's superiority in the scrum.

As a game of rugby, it was no spectacle, neither side having a player behind the scrum capable of creating openings and numerous injuries breaking up what little flow there was.

The result means that Wasps have achieved the league and cup double this season remarkable considering they lost several key players at the start of the year to Saracens.

SCORERS: Richmond: Penalty goal: Mills. Wasps: Try: Harding. Dropped goals: Almond 2.

RICHMOND: A McMahon; K Penney, P Harris, E Davies, D Francis; D Mills, D Dorling; D Grantham (rep: J Holloway), S Wachholz-Dorrington, J Watts, C Isherwood, A Cooper, H Devine, C Rhys, M Harrington.

WASPS: V Moore; C Stennett, H Maskell, C Willets, A O'Kelly; K Almond, H Harding; S Ewing, A Turner, B Davies, H Bewsy, A Parsons, P Durkan, S Martineau, H Stirrup.

Referee: A Evans (London).

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Almond takes Wasps to league and cup double; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 9 Apr. 1990

Saturday, 24 February 1990

National league decider: Richmond v Wasps

Richmond play Wasps at the Athletic Ground tomorrow in a match which will decide the first division in the Women's Rugby Football Union league. Both clubs have lost once but Richmond have slightly the better points aggregate. Proceeds from the match will go to the appeal fund for Romanian rugby.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1990

Source Citation
"Two London referees bound for Australia; Rugby Union." Times [London, England]

Sunday, 24 September 1989

Saracens's first match

EVIDENCE that rugby's cherished spirit of altruism still flourishes can be found at the newly-formed Saracens women's rugby club.

Founded by former members of Wasps, Richmond and Gillingham to spread the women's game, the club began life with a 22-0 win over a Northern Select XV.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1989

Source Citation
"Rugby Union Round-Up." Sunday Times [London, England] 24 Sept. 1989.

Saturday, 1 July 1989

Richmond's tour of New Zealand

Remarkable news from rugby union: a British team has returned from New Zealand with a record of nine games and nine victories. This, I am told, had never been accomplished previously by any team from any nation (the Fijians of 1939 left New Zealand unbeaten, but with one drawn game). The team was Richmond Women's Rugby Club, and after seven club games and two provincial games, their record was 258 points for and 41 against. They tell me that the compliment of the tour came from the president of the Rotorua club, who said: ``Richmond's women play rugby like the All Blacks in slow motion.''

Source Citation
"Diary." Times [London, England] 1 July 1989

Monday, 18 April 1988

National Cup final, 1986

Cheryl Stennett scored three tries as Wasps beat Richmond, 34-6, in the final of the women's Rugby Union Cup at Rosslyn Park yesterday. Copyright (C) The Times, 1988

Source Citation
"Sport In Brief: Three tries." Times [London, England] 18 Apr. 1988.

Monday, 13 April 1987

FIRST Breaking down the barriers.


Sheila Walsh, a founder member of the Women's Rugby Football Union four years ago, presented Wasps with the club championship shield after their 19-0 victory over Richmond, although clearly the main enjoyment was playing at Twickenham (David Hands writes).

The game was played across the field rather than up and down and Wasps may also have achieved another first, when Karen Almond's conversion was deflected over the bar by the charging Sue Butler.

SCORERS: Wasps: Tries: Skyes, Treadwell, Penalty try, Conversions: Almond (2) Penalty: Almond. Copyright (C) The Times, 1987

Source Citation
"Rugby Union: FIRST Breaking down the barriers." Times [London, England] 13 Apr. 1987

Sunday, 12 April 1987

First women's match at Twickenham: report

WASPS became the first winners of the women's rugby club championship when they beat Richmond 19-0 at Twickenham. Fly-half Karen Almond showed herself to be on of the most gifted players around, as her side scored tries through Heather Sykes, Sally Treadwell and Collected a penalty try. Almond converted two and also kicked a penalty.

Victorious skipper Sue Bennett said: 'It was a big breakthrough for us. This should encourage a lot more girls to play rugby and keep the standard improving. '

Source Citation
"Rugby Round-up." Sunday Times [London, England] 12 Apr. 1987.

Tuesday, 7 April 1987

First women's match at Twickenham: announcement

The first women's Rugby Union match to be played at Twickenham, the WRFU Cup final, will be refereed by the Rev Roger Parker, of Staffordshire. The Richmond Ladies v Wasps contest will precede the men's County Championship final on Saturday.

Source Citation
"Sport In Brief: Women's final; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 7 Apr. 1987