- National finals in two age groups
- Under 15s added to U13s this year
Girls’ rugby will be showcased to a huge audience this Saturday (April 27) when the RFU National Girls' Schools Competition reaches its final stages at Twickenham Stadium on the day of the Army v Navy match.
The existing National Under 13s Girls’ Competition has been expanded this season to give opportunities to the Under 15s, and 24 school teams across the two age groups have won through from local festivals and six area competitions around the country to Saturday’s finals.
Pool matches will take place at Staines RFC on Saturday morning and the top two schools in each age group will qualify to play their final on the Twickenham pitch at half-time of the Army/Navy match for which a sell-out crowd of more than 80,000 is expected.
The teams playing for third and fourth places in the National Girls’ Competition will also play at the hallowed Home of England Rugby, before kick-off in the main event.
Mark Saltmarsh, RFU Head of Education Development, hailed the continued growth of the girls’ game in schools, saying: “Now that the women’s Union is fully integrated into the RFU there is a clear commitment to the women’s and girls’ game.
“With a team of Women’s Rugby Development Officers working alongside the rest of our field staff around the country, we are seeing more and more schools keen to offer girls rugby.
“The opportunity to play competitively throughout secondary school is a vital ingredient of getting girls involved and keeping them in the game.”
Several of the schools appearing in the U15 Year 9 and 10 age band finals are familiar names from the U13s Year 7 and 8 competition in previous years.
Beaumont from St Albans, Perins from Alresford in Hampshire, Church Stretton from Shropshire, Skipton Girls' High School from North Yorkshire and Mount Grace from Leicestershire all demonstrate that girls are not only enjoying their first taste of rugby, but keeping it going as they move up through the age groups.
Another exciting development is the presence of Kelvin Hall School from Hull, a member of the RFU All Schools programme, who have made it to the national U13 finals in their very first year of playing rugby at the school.
Many young players around England have taken up the game for the first time and moved from schools rugby into local clubs. The RFU Competition responds to their desire to continue developing their skills and enjoying their rugby as they get older.
The year 7s and 8s (U13) play sevens on a half-size pitch, with three-player uncontested scrums, no lineouts and no kicking out of hand or for touch.
This leads on to 10-a-side for the new year 9 and 10 (U15) competition, still on a half-size pitch, with five-player uncontested scrums, and four players in the lineout but with no ‘long’ or ‘quick’ throws.
The RFU is continuing to enhance schools' rugby programmes and to build on links with the services, and Saturday’s referees will be from the Royal Navy, while students from Bournemouth University will help with the organisation.
National Girls’ Competition finalists, Under 13s: Dane Court Grammar School (Kent), Robert Clack School (Essex), St Mary’s Catholic High School (Manchester), Oldfields Hall Middle School (Uttoxeter), Presdales School (Hertfordshire), Perins School (Hampshire), Whitburn CofE Academy School (Sunderland), St Gregory’s (Bedfordshire), Copleston High (Suffolk), Kelvin Hall School (Hull), Dene Magna (Gloucestershire), Hugh Sexey CofE Middle School (Somerset)
National Girls’ Competition finalists, Under 15s
: Mount Grace (Leicestershire), Range High School (Merseyside), Church Stretton (Shropshire), Beaumont School (Hertfordshire), Perins School (Hampshire), Sir John Leman High (Suffolk), Dene Community School (Durham), Honywood (Essex), Angmering School (Sussex), Skipton Girls High School (North Yorkshire), St John's Marlborough (Wiltshire), Clyst Vale Community College (Exeter)