The Club maintained women’s senior and junior sides for some years until numbers dropped off and an edict was made by the County for clubs to send their U13+ girls to specific ‘cluster’ clubs in order to generate a meaningful squad of players.
Since this time, however, the interest in women’s rugby has grown and there are now more than 18,000 women and girls playing rugby regularly in England and the RFU has committed to grow this to 100,000 across the country.
The international success of England Women has helped in spreading the word; the team won the Rugby World Cup in 2014, a victory which followed a record-breaking seventh consecutive 6-Nations crown in 2012 as well as the Grand Slam.
What Ages Can Play Rugby?
Girls already participate in mixed mini rugby at Petersfield RFC from U6 to U12 and Field are looking now looking to encourage these girls to stay with the Club as they move up through the age groups.
As the numbers of girls playing currently are below that of the boys, the age groups are often combined into three bands; U13, U15 and U18. These bands comprise the U11-U13, U14-U15 and U16-U18. This ensures girls have the opportunity to play regular competitive matches.
There is, however, no need to fear for the safety of younger players competing with older ones. Along with the general requirement for the coaching team to risk-assess all aspects of the game, (including potentially dangerous mismatches), there are specific regulations for girls rugby that dictate the format of the games played. For example, uncontested scrums and limited numbers of players involved in rucks and mauls.
Beyond Club/School Rugby
Hampshire has U15 and U18 girls teams and has trials that are open to anyone. County players are nominated to trial for the RFU Women’s Divisional Programme. Talented players are identified and U15s and U18s are invited into Talent Development Groups. Successful players will have the opportunity to play for the England U20s.
One player who can speak from experience is England international Fran Matthews. Fran was playing for her club and Surrey as a teenager, spotted as a talented player she was invited to an elite summer camp at Loughborough University and now plays Premiership rugby for Richmond and striving for further success with England.
However, it’s not all about being the best and playing for England. Rugby is a sociable game; more women are playing because rugby clubs have welcoming, family atmospheres, and the sport is a great way to get fit.
Try Before You Buy…!
PRFC run touch-rugby sessions every Wednesday evening at 7pm. These sessions are open for all, (i.e., they aren’t just for current players/members), and are a great way to start picking up the basics of rugby. As they are non-contact, (a touch constitutes a tackle, there are no scrums, etc.), it is possible for teams of mixed ages and sex to play against each other.
If you don’t fancy just turning up and playing, our Girls Coaching Team will be present every Wednesday through July to meet you, take you through the basics and introduce you to the Club.
Typically, we allow new players 3-weeks to try the sport before they are requested to become members. As this is likely to be such a new venture for most of you, we intend to play this by ear and make sure you are fully hooked before we come looking for money!
You will have to be registered with the RFU, this costs nothing but the time taken to fill out your details.
More on all of this when the season starts, but if you want to get ahead of the curve, look at our Club website for membership information, (currently showing 2015/16 details. http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/petersfield/a/membership-12263.html)
The 2016-17 Season
The 2016-17 official rugby season opens on the 3rd September 2016 and runs through to the 1st May 2017. Our first proper training session for all Girls age groups will be Sunday 4th September.
We will meet every Sunday at the Club apart from holiday breaks, (e.g., Christmas and New Year). The training sessions will start at 10am and run for 90-to-120 minutes. (Note: we will not exceed 120 minutes as this is the maximum allowed by the RFU).
We will aim for each session to contain a warm-up, speed, quickness and agility training, rugby core skills training, controlled games (to put theory in to practice) and a debrief and cool-down to finish. Most importantly of all, however, we hope to make the sessions FUN!!
As we get into the season, we will look to set up fixtures with other clubs, either at home or away. We won’t rush into this as we have to be sure you are ready for the challenge.
We will give you more detailed information on matches later, but just to give you a flavour; U13/14 matches last 25mins per half , U15 30mins per half, U16+ 35mins per half. All of these figures are the maximum playing time, (i.e., not taking into account stoppages).
Your Coaching Team
Your coaching team currently consists of Head Coach, Jenny Forbes and team manager, Paul Harrington. As our numbers grow, we will take on more coaching staff – hopefully from within the players’ group as mums and dads step up to help.
All of the coaching team will be RFU qualified and have valid Disclosure and Barring Service certificates, (formerly known as Criminal Records Bureau checks). These are criminal record checks carried out to see if the candidate has a criminal record which may bar them from undertaking, in the case of rugby, voluntary work with children.
We will also have sufficient numbers of trained first aiders for the numbers of girls in the squad.
See our Safeguarding & Welfare pages on the Petersfield RFC website for more information.
Jenny first started playing in the minis for Petersfield before returning to rugby aged 13 to join the U16 girls team. She played for four seasons for Petersfield, (the “Solent Sirens” as they were then), and represented the County and Region for two seasons. After a spell away from the game, the 2014 Women’s World Cup inspired her to play club rugby again in the 2015/6 season.
Jenny’s previous coaching experience includes the Hampshire youth games and workshops held in local primary schools. Both her parents were heavily involved with PRFC before and during the time she played - her mother worked tirelessly to grow and support the women's section both as a player and manager - and Jenny is excited to be helping with the re-launch of women's rugby at the Club, carrying on her family’s involvement with Petersfield.
His playing days well behind him, Paul ‘joined’ the Club in 2004 when his sons began playing for the U8s and U10s respectively. He began by helping to set up the equipment for the younger age group, which lead to him becoming a coach, coach/team manager through the age groups before managing the Colts for 3-years until standing aside at the end of the 2014-15 season. He also holds the role of Press Officer for the Club a position he has filled for a number of years.
Paul will provide the administrative input to the Girls group and will be the annoyance at the end of the phone badgering players to attend sessions, remember fixtures and pay subs, leaving Jenny to get on with the important work of making rugby enjoyable for the girls.
Updated 16:31 - 26 Sep 2016 by Paul Harrington