City of Derry ladies are moving on up
Celebrating a hugely successful season for women’s rugby, Lady Captain Andrea Shepherd, commended her team mates on a brilliant season, which takes the women into Division 2.
The journey was not without some low points along the way, she said, noting that 2012/13 had been “a bit of a washout” for the ladies.
“People just were not able to commit to the team, and unfortunately, we just did not have the ability to remain in the All-Ireland League Two North. So, we decided that it was time to rebuild, so over the summer last year we went on a recruitment drive and we went out and tried to recruit different members and the current players tried ot get people on board, and we got lots of new players who are new to sport never mind new to the sport of rugby,” she said, continuing: The majority of players were not rugby players. You could probably count this season the number of former players on the one hand that were still with the club. We had a number of players who left the club last season because they were aspiring to play for Ulster and for Ireland, so they had to go and play in the All-Ireland League, which is completely understandable.”
The effect on the club, however, meant there were only a handful of players who could cut mustard on the field. To make good the deficit meant hard work, and Andrea and another player set about printing and distributing fliers and their efforts have bourne fruit... with a brilliant 2013/14 season and a seat at the table in Division Two once more.
Now the team is putting the call out for more women co come along and play not just for the physcial fitness and competitive aspect of the game, but also for the fun, social side.
Training for last year started in September and with all the team committed in a major way to the team’s success, the autumn and winter were spent grafting hard on the training field. In November the ladies accepted an invite to play in an Ulster 10s Tournament, which they won - not easy and a testament to the dedication of the ladies.
“In that tournament we played against teams that were already established. We took them on and we won that tournament,” said a delighted Andrea.
Admitting the win had motivated the team, Andrea is now hoping that the club can attract even more women to the sport so that the team numbers can expand and have a presence in both the Development League and Division 2.
“Division 2 means a lot of hard work ahead,” said Andrea, laughing.
“It is going to be a very big step up for the development team. When we were in the Development League it was very much playing 10s tournaments. A lot of the other development teams were struggling to get full 15 players out on the pitch, where as now that we are in AIL2 it will be full Rugby Union 15 a side, competing with teams that have been established for a long time and playing together for a long time. So it will be a big step up, but, the girls area ready for that. Their hard work, the dedication, their commitment is second to none,” said Andrea.
The more numbers the ladies can attract, the better for the team as it will push people to compete for places on the team.
The more numbers that we have and the better for the team. It will push people to want to compete and it can only do good for the club and for the team,” she said, adding: Not only that, we are also trying to start and underage team and we have had a number of events around this. That is the future and we need to have that underage development coming through, so that when the old players like myself step down we have new blood that is coming through.”
Anyone that wants to try out or know more can contact the Rugby Club by telephone. The ladies also train on a Thursday night during the summer months at Judges Road from 7pm to 8.30pm and any ladies or underage wannabe rugby starts of the future are welcome to come down and talk to the team and coach.
Pre-season the team will go back up to training two nights a week - Tuesday and Thursday - at 7pm to 8.30pm.
Information on the team is also available through the City of Derry Facebook page.
Aspiring players are also welcome to make direct contact with the coach, Rodney Balfour, at the Club telephone number 028 7186 1101.
The President is Les Alan (07543964790); Honorary Secretary, Robert Fleming (028 7134 1499) and Club PRO, Moss Dineen (07598933662).