Winscombe Girls crowned national champions at two age groups
PUBLISHED: 09:33 05 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 05 May 2017
Both Winscombe girls' teams at Under-15 and 18 level became RFU national champions in a historic day at Cheltenham.
On what was an historic day for age group rugby in the South West region, both Winscombe girls’ teams at Under-15 and 18 levels became RFU national champions.
The finals were held at Cheltenham Rugby Club with both teams tackling strong opposition. The Under-15s faced Worcester and the 18s took on Lichfield.
First up were the Under-15s who quickly opened up a 20-point lead on their opponents and seemed to be running away with the match. Worcester responded in the second half, however, narrowing the gap to a single score. Winscombe again drew away in the closing period to eventually win 39-17.
In the second match, Lichfield Under-18s started strongly and after a charge down on the Winscombe try-line opened the scoring with an unconverted try. Lucy Burgess narrowed the points gap soon after with a penalty from the Lichfield 22.
The match was then held up for over an hour while Winscombe lock, Olivia Ball, was treated for a leg injury. Both teams showed great composure in taking to the field to eventually resume the match.
The gap in play did not seem to affect Winscombe, who laid siege to their opponents 22 and scored twice before half-time with tries from Jess Dadds and Rhian Hughes.
Winscombe ran away with the match in the second half with tries from Izzy Hemms, Florence Long, Jess Cooksey, Hattie Stevens and a second by Hughes, Burgess adding two conversions, running out 42-12 winners.
Winscombe Girls’ head coach, Gareth Waterfield commented that the double represented his finest moment in rugby to date, notwithstanding the fact that he has previously been capped for England’s deaf team and was last year presented with the RFU President’s Award for his work in grassroots rugby.
The astonishing achievement is further brought into focus when considering the fact that both Worcester and Lichfield ladies’ teams who play in the National Premiership Division and have impressive coaching infrastructure.
For Winscombe, a Somerset village club, to be competing at this level is testament to the club’s foresight and commitment to girls’ rugby, something that Waterfield started some four years ago and which has gone from strength to strength.
Winscombe has become a regional and now national powerhouse of girls’ rugby, the club has vibrant Under-13s, 15s and 18s squads. Many of the older girls also play at county and regional level and a good few are in the national development squads of both England and Wales.