- Kid gloves are on before gloves are off
- Preston women warm to gentler approach
Women's rugby is a physically challenging sport and there was a time when the biggest challenge facing raw recruits was to summon the mental toughness to throw themselves into the fray.
The massive growth of the game in recent seasons reflects the number of women and girls who have cheerfully negotiated being ‘thrown in at the deep end’, but recent developments at student level have been put in place to ensure that all newcomers are given a chance to acclimatise to the demands and techniques of the game at a much more measured and controlled pace.
Safety is the overarching issue during the period before games are played in earnest, an example of that kid-gloves approach coming recently in the North West when over 50 ladies from three different universities take part in a training afternoon in Preston.
Students from the University of Cumbria, University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill University received coaching from the North Lancashire CRC’s Kai Burns and Chris Lowden, the aim of the day being to introduce the game and elements of contact techniques to allow the students to begin training at their respective campuses.
With all three teams having recruited a number of players whom had never touched a rugby ball before the series of North Lancashire ‘Fresher’s Touch’ events held in previous weeks, the safe, graduated introduction to contact was the raison d’etre for the session, with both confidence and competence the key ingredients.
The gradual build-up from simple touch rugby to controlled elements of contact via rucking and tackling skills enabled some of the more experienced players to take on coaching roles with their fresh recruits.
“Our aim was to get the players ready for safe contact training back with their respective clubs and universities and to ensure they are retained in the game.” said Kai Burns. “This and much more was achieved as all players went away not only having learned the basic techniques of tackling and rucking, but also having had the opportunity to practice them in a live but controlled game situation.”
A number of players expressed a keen interest in making the transition to club rugby and they were signposted to local clubs with CRC’s providing training times and contact information for Preston Grasshoppers and Ormskirk Ladies teams.
The teams now have the benefit of several more weeks before competitive BUCs fixtures start in which time they can continue training and preparing for the season.
The universities will also benefit from a campus visit from the Messrs Burns and Lowden to deliver some position-specific coaching and specialist sessions.