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...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Women's rugby's Webb Ellis - the first girl to play rugby

I imagine that most of you will know about the "legend" of the invention of rugby by a boy at Rugby School called William Webb Ellis back in the 1820s. Its all a bit of a myth, but I've unearthed (or, in all honesty, am in the process of unearthing) a remarkable story of what may be the female equivalent - possibly the first girl to play rugby.

Its a bit difficult to say when rugby, as a sport, began. Rugby School's rules were first published in the 1840s, but they were obviously playing the game for years before that. However it wasn't until 1871 that the RFU was formed as the game's first "governing body" so arguably it is only from then that the game exists as a separate sport. But only 13 years later in September 1884 a teenage girl - Miss E F Valentine (don't have her full name yet), along with her brothers, wanted to play rugby at her school.

Her school - Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland - were not very supportive and refused access to the main sports field, but this did not stop them. They seemed to have persuaded others to join them and started by playing amongst themselves every Saturday, not least because there were few teams for them to play - though some records suggest that they did play some fixtures in 1885. Thanks to their efforts by 1887 the game had been accepted and the school was playing regular fixtures - as it does to this day (it celebrated 125 years of rugby last year, though Miss Valentine seemed to be forgotten).

Its an amazing story because this is 1884 - Victorian Britain - not a time when well brought-up young girls would have normally been seen doing anything particularly energetic or sporting. If we think that prejudice against women is sport is bad now it is nothing compared to what it would have been like then. She was clearly a remarkable young woman - and her story probably deserves to be better known.


  1. Great website! Love the content.

  2. Love it, just re-posted on YSC.



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