RUGBY is one of the fastest growing sports among women and girls in the United Kingdom.
The RFU have reported a 17% year-on-year growth in participation of the women’s game and Jersey RFC are keen to ensure they become part of that statistic.
The club’s women enjoyed a breakout year in 2022, highlighted by an historic 40-0 Siam Cup triumph over Guernsey – their first inter-island success. That victory, coupled with performances across the year in Women’s NC 2 South East (South), were rightly recognised with a team of the year nomination at last evening’s CI Sports Awards.
It was an opportune time for the club to host a girls’ open day, aiming to increase the amount of girls at the junior level of the sport.
JRFC’s girls’ manager Lucy Hart said: ‘It was such a great day.
‘We had over 25 kids there and a vast majority were brand new to the sport and had never touched a rugby ball before.
‘There were a few girls at the under-11 age group …. the last year where girls and boys can play together, and some of the boys came up to integrate with them, which was really cool.
‘Now the aim is to get at least half of those who came up to come back to our regular practice sessions on a Sunday. We have already had a few that have committed, so hopefully a handful of others will come back and stick at it.’
Women’s sport has broadly seen a recent spike in participation rates. Firstly, in the wake of the Lionesses captivating success at the 2022 European Championships, becoming the first English senior football team to win a major tournament since 1966. Then, with Red Roses at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, narrowly losing in the final, to hosts New Zealand.
Hart feels women in the sport have a duty to inspire the next crop, and show that there is a space for girls, should they wish to play.
‘I think the Red Roses performance at the World Cup was huge,’ said the JRFC Women forward. ‘It’s made more girls aware of the sport.
‘Schools in Jersey have began to offer it more to girls, which hadn’t previously been the case … it just wasn’t accessible for people wanting to try.
‘If I, and other members of the Jersey RFC Women’s team can inspire a new generation of girls that want to press into the sport, that would be amazing.’