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Emerging talent in Tooting

20 December 2013

  • More girls than ever being given the opportunity to play rugby
  • Schools in Surrey benefiting from coaching from RFU Rugby Development Officers and Community Rugby Coaches.
Last month 160 girls from nine schools participated in the ‘Girls Emerging Schools’ event in Tooting, South London

Photo: RFU Archive

Last month 160 girls from nine schools participated in the Girls Emerging Schools event in Tooting, South London. This was the second in a series of four events organised by Surrey RFU Community Rugby Coach, Gareth Jackson, to introduce girls to rugby and to enhance their enjoyment of the game.

The teams took part in Tag Rugby and contact matches, many for the first time. Surrey Community Rugby Coaches and Rugby Development Officers were on hand to offer guidance and with so many girls in attendance there was an opportunity to play matches against teams of a similar standard.

Gareth Jackson said: “The emphasis of the days are on having fun and giving girls who may never have touched a rugby ball before the chance to play. We start with Tag Rugby, followed by a 15-minute Tackle Club which is an introduction to how to tackle safely, as demonstrated by the RFU Community Coaches. The girls then put into practice what they have learnt in restricted area, simplified games where tackling is the only extra skill introduced.”

As an added bonus England Women’s scrum-half La Toya Mason assisted with coaching and presented awards to girls who had demonstrated the core values of rugby. 

Mason, who now works as an RFU Community Rugby Coach, said: “It was fantastic to see so many girls taking part in the Tooting event. Thanks to RFU programmes like this there are so many opportunities for girls to get involved in rugby these days.

“Rugby really is on the map now as a viable sport for women to play. I am extremely fortunate to be able to represent my country and, who knows, perhaps one of these girls from Tooting will also go on to play for England one day. It’s all about being given the opportunity to learn early.”

Among the schools in attendance were Quest and De Stafford from Surrey’s All Schools, one of the RFU’s major development programmes to get more secondary state schools playing rugby union.

The RFU believes that rugby union is a game for All Schools – all schools and all young people in the school can play, and rugby can have a positive impact on all of the school. 

Following the success of the Emerging Girls School events at Old Reigatian RFC and Mitcham FC, Tooting, two more events have been scheduled for February 6 at Farnham RFC, where 280 girls are expected, and March 4 at Wimbledon RFC.

The RFU’s Rugby Development Officers and Community Coaches are working hard to make rugby a relevant sporting option for women, with a long-term aim to grow numbers from 10,000 registered players over 14 years old to 20,000 by 2016/17.