Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Girls' rugby outside the box

Fascinating news out of the West Country where some pioneering work is showing that there is another way to develop girls' rugby in an area than the "traditional" RFUW/CB/County forum route. Admittedly it still needs support (ie. in this case from a Guinness Premiership club) and the usual band of dedicated volunteers, but its different, refreshing, and above all working for the girls of Gloucestershire.

Gloucester Girls Rugby Charitable Trust Fund (GGR) was set up last year to provide "rugby and lifestyle skills to girls in Gloucestershire". It grew out of a "standard" county programme that wasn't working in that it was "failing to the give girls the development opportunities they required and deserved" (draw you own conclusions about what this really means, but the organiser behind this had reached RFUW regional manager level before she... left).

Interestingly the aim of the charity is broader than just rugby, providing "life skills in nutrition, general and sexual health, and fitness and injury prevention". One of the other key aims is to raise girls' aspirations across the board (not just in sport) by increasing their confidence and self esteem. This has allowed the GGR to tap into a wide range of funds and other help which is not generally available to programmes that follow the "standard model".

The programme is also not restricted to the usual age ranges - ie. it does not throw 18 year olds out into the adult game and leave them to it. There are programmes for Under 12s, Under 15s, Under 18s, and 18-24 year olds. The younger age groups meet on a Saturday morning and over 100 girls regularly attend. Overall 75% of the U15 and U18 players represented county or region in the project's first season.

One factor I like about it is the way in which the project aims to support the girls as both individuals and as members of a team - a major criticism many of us have is that the Standard Model majors in the individual and seems to forget teams entirely. Also from its inception the scheme set out not to just recruit girls into the game, but also to "make a significant effort to ensure that they stay within the game" and above all placed a "huge emphasis on ensuring all girls wishing to play rugby could do so."

The programme also aimed to tackled U12 drop-out - something that at a national level remains patchy, to put it mildly. "The main aim of our Girls Development programme is to motivate and inspire girls to stay and succeed in the game regardless of level of performance, returning to club rugby or indeed finding their way into County and Regional representative Rugby". No elitism here, then!

All in all its stirring stuff. How portable a model it is is difficult to say - but its clear that it could not have been done (well not at the level it has) without the active support of Gloucester Rugby Club and Premier Rugby Ltd, so you still need access to a modern organisation with some business as well as rugby expertise (something which allowed Lisa Walsh and her dedicated team of volunteers to raise an amazing £20,000 in their first year). But if you have access to that then it is clear that you can successfully generate your own path to success. The further development of GGR will be something that we should all watch with interest over the next season. Meanwhile the project celebrates its first birthday with a Charitable Ball (the dancing type, not the one you throw around!) on 9th August. Good luck from Letchworth - and have a great evening, everyone!

For more information and contacts you can go to GGR's Facebook Page or various articles on the Gloucester RFC website such as this.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Sarah

    http://www.thetreadmillguide.com

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