By Sarah Charlotte Drew
For years, coaches and clubs have been scratching their heads looking for the answer in how to increase girls’ participation in rugby.
Lincolnshire teams have struggled to get full teams or even enough numbers to make training sessions worthwhile.
Newly-created “hub”, the Lincs Baa Baa’s, could hold the answer.
The Lincs Baa Baa’s will be an under-18 rugby team made from all of the current clubs in Lincolnshire with girls’ sides. This will create a full squad of girls, providing the opportunity for competitive games.
Coaches Rob Perrins, Zoe O’Rourke and Neil Speechley will be running the sessions, with guest coaches used for speciality skills.
Coach Speechley feels the new team is needed to improve girls’ rugby in Lincolnshire.
He said: “Little pockets that can’t play result in limited player development and no critical mass to grow. By bringing the girls together, numbers mean more ability to train constructively.
“I hope numbers grow and they can return to their home clubs eventually.”
Girls must be registered with one of the Lincolnshire teams to join the hub. They will still be registered with their home club, but will play for Baa Baa’s. In a respectful nod to their parent sides, the girls will wear the Baa Baa’s rugby kit barring their socks, which will be replaced by those of their home team.
Team manager Jayne Bravin feels the Baa Baa’s will improve girls’ rugby in Lincolnshire.
She added: “Volunteers will come together with RFU backing to promote and develop girls rugby and make it great for Lincolnshire and all the clubs. Giving these committed girls more training and game play will improve the player, enhance their personal development within a fantastic, fun, friendly and committed environment.”
Club managers have big hopes for the Baa Baa’s. Once the side has successfully taken off, they hope to be able to provide opportunities for more girls in Lincolnshire.
At the moment, there are no under-13 girls’ teams in Lincolnshire, which means there are no opportunities in the county for girls to play once they are over the age of 11, until they’re old enough to join the under-18s.
The Baa Baa’s hope to solve this problem by eventually creating teams for younger age groups.
Training will take place in Sleaford Rugby Club on Wednesday nights (7pm-8.30pm) and in Lincoln on Sundays from August 23 (2pm-4pm) when there are no matches being played.
This Sunday (August 16) sees the Baa Baa’s host an open afternoon as a meet and greet.
This will give Lincolnshire girls the chance to meet new players, partake in a non-contact “have a go” session and serves as an opportunity to meet coaches and management, who will be happy to answer any questions.
All girls of any age are welcome to come along to join the flock.
No girls will be turned away and coaches will do their best to develop everyone.
For more information contact Dawn Smith on 07545 894472 or Jayne Bravin on 07791239018.