- North Women’s rugby changes
- New role created in Yorkshire
Women’s rugby union in Yorkshire, the North East and Cumbria will have a new driving force following the appointment of two fresh faces to the Rugby Development Team in the region.
The recently reshaped Area 6 of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) geographical structure embraces Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria and that collection of clubs and counties will now have a new Women’s Rugby Development Officer in place in the shape of former Yorkshire, RAF and Harrogate player Peter Taylor.
Currently coaching the Durham senior side and the North of England Under 18 team, his day job now involves overseeing the development of women’s rugby across the region after he took over recently from Vicky Putson.
The 42-year-old former second-row forward joins the RFU from a Coaching Development post with Sport England and is presently getting to grips with the logistics of meeting the many volunteers who are involved in women’s rugby in Yorkshire, the North East and Cumbria.
“My first job is to get to know the patch and the people involved,” said Taylor. “The geography of Area 6 where I’ll be working involves clubs from West Cumbria to South Yorkshire and it will obviously take a while to get to know everyone and what they are doing.
“My priority is to get structures in place at each Constituent Body (county) that will enable rapid support for women and girls rugby. One of the keys to efficient delivery will be to get our Community Rugby Coaches into clubs and schools at the right time and ensure that quality school links are made with clubs.
“RFU priorities have the development of the Women and Girls game very high on the agenda. We need to introduce more girls in the Under 13 age group to create a steady flow of players into the more senior teams at club and representative level and that will be our focus.
“It’s also very important to create a structure where the girls can play fairly regularly as well as train and be coached and while each county is different in the way women’s and girls’ rugby is set up, they share that common goal, which we’ll all be working towards. We have also now ring fenced 10% of all places on coaching courses for female coaches, this further shows our commitment to growing the women’s and girls’ game.
“We have club teams and district teams and we need to be smart in how we develop that player pool to give them all competitive rugby. At the moment we have 13 clubs with women’s teams playing league rugby and similar number also playing local friendly fixtures. I am focused on growing both the number of teams playing league rugby and the number of new teams that play recreationally.
“We also have examples of how quickly a viable team can develop. At Dinnington RFC a Rugby Fit programme was introduced purely for the girls to get some exercise, but that group has grown to over 30 now and there is a strong move to progress to forming a team.
“We also need to establish some models of good practice to help us promote the game and that’s another challenge for us. Getting the right people in the right slots is our initial challenge, especially now that county committees have recognised the importance the women’s game.
“I’m really excited about the challenge. Women’s rugby is developing at a furious rate across the UK and worldwide and with the Women’s World Cup 2014 and the Rugby World Cup 2015 on the horizon, the number of women and girls wanting to get involved will grow rapidly and we need to manage it well.”
Development of women's game to the fore
Taylor’s arrival coincides with another appointment in his biggest constituency, Yorkshire, where Charlie Roberts, previously the Manager of the White Rose team during the County Women's Programme, has stepped up to become the Chair of Yorkshire Women's Rugby in its entirety, a brief that entails overseeing all elements of the development of the women's game in the county.
“Having come from a horse riding background people are often a bit bewildered at first as to why I've become involved in rugby, having never played,” she says. “But the boys in my family all played rugby, so there's always been that element of involvement."
“An injury to my hip stopped the riding for a while and purely by chance rugby came along just when I was needing a challenge to occupy me."
That opportunity came when her seven-year-old nephew started playing at Ripon RFC. “Ironically, his interest waned after a little while – he's a 'fair weather' child – but I enjoyed being involved in that unique community atmosphere that so many local clubs have, so I kept going.
“I was asked if I would like to be the Hon Secretary for the Junior committee and then the Senior committee and it went from there.”
That rapid rise through the ranks for the 24-year-old Marketing and Events Coordinator at Leeds University Union was soon extended into the Yorkshire RFU domain, with work for North Yorkshire identifying an obvious talent and Yorkshire offering further advancement through the Women's team.
“Just being involved in rugby excites me and the bug has most definitely bitten” she said. “The world of work and club rugby has given me the skills and the confidence to stand up and say what I think and believe in, which I hope will stand me in good stead."
“I’m excited about the future of women's rugby in Yorkshire and beyond and about what we can achieve in terms of club, player and coaching development by working together. We’re by no means as strong as we ought to be given the size of the county and the number of clubs involved, but by working with Peter and the clubs we will be able to drive things forward."
Pete Taylor, Women's Rugby Development Officer (Area 6); Mob: 07841 367391. Email: email@example.com
Charlie Roberts, Chair, Yorkshire Women's Rugby; Mob: 07974 358622. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org