Midlands players eager to demonstrate their credentials for potential representative honours with the England Women's team will be hoping to put down a marker this weekend when the first game of this season’s RFUW Divisional Programme kicks off against their South West rivals at Whitchurch RFC, Shropshire.
The RFUW Divisional Programme, which embraces Under 15, Under 18 and Senior players, forms an integral part of the RFUW Player Pathway, which can see players progressing from club rugby to representing their county, their division and eventually their country. Emily Braund, a former Midlands player, demonstrated the success of the Pathway programme as she made her England debut in the 47-0 win against Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations last weekend.
Players selected for the Divisional Programme have been chosen by their Constituency Body and if successful at that level, can earn an England trial or qualify for the U15 or U18 RFUW National Talent Development Groups.
Matthew Ferguson, Midlands Talent Development Officer, is excited by the Midlands squad for this weekend's fixture.
He said: “I was very impressed with the standard of rugby at this year's divisional training camp. It was clear to see we had selected the right players from a strong field of 50 who had been at the trial. This is reflected by the team picked to play against the South West by Head Coach and former England Under 21s prop Peter Cook.
“Within the starting line-up we have two capped international players; Roz Crowley and Gemma Sharples as well as two former members of the England A team who won the European Trophy last year and the current England Under 20s captain.
"These players are all in the pathway to gain a spot in next year’s Elite squad and provide the other girls with an excellent insight into playing for England. I’m also pleased to see a number of last year’s U18 divisional players making the squad which proves the future is bright for Midlands and England’s women’s rugby.”
Midlands Senior Women’s squad: Gemma Wilson (NLD, Saracens), Rebecca Williams (Staffs, Lichfield), Roz Crowley (Staffs, Lichfield), Stacey Maquire (Staffs, Lichfield), Rebecca James (Staffs, Lichfield), Fiona Fletcher (Staffs, Lichfield), Caley Parnell (Staffs, Lichfield), Gemma Sharples (Staffs, Lichfield), Amy Tinn (NLD, Deeping), Natasha Jones (Staffs, Lichfield), Liz Polson (Staffs, Lichfield), Fiona Jones (Staffs, Lichfield), Emma-Jo Jenkins (Warwick, Keresley), Rachel Jones (Staffs, Lichfield), Nancy Stone (North Mids, Camp Hill), Hannah Newsome (NLD, North Hykeham), Stacy Tolley (Warwick, Keresley), Jess Sippits (NLD, Lichfield), Steph Cranmer (NLD, Lichfield), Caroline Spence (Warwick, Old Leams), Danii Booth (NLD, Chesterfield), Amy Orrow (NLD, Mark Rasen).
Divisional Programme 2012:
N v LSE, KO 2pm, Sheffield RFC
Mids v SW, Edgeley Road, Shropshire, KO 2pm
LSE v SW Esher RFC, KO 245pm
Mids v N, Five Ways, KO 245pm
LSE v SW Esher RFC, KO 1pm
Mids v N, Five Ways, KO 1pm
N v Mids, Blackwell Meadows Darlington, KO 2pm
SW v LSE, Newbury RFC, 2pm
Mids v LSE, Five Ways, KO 1pm
SW v N, Stroud RFC, KO3pm
Mids v LSE, Five Ways, KO 245pm
SW v N, Stroud RFC, KO 115pm
March 31st & April 1st
U15s Divisional Festival, Hartpury College
N v LSE, Hartpury College, KO TBC
Mids v SW, Hartpury College, KO TBC