Sport

 

 Richmond Women’s rugby club, season 2006/7

‘Stepping Up’

 

We can reflect on a season of achievement and excitement across the club. It’s a season in which we have added the National Tens title to our XVs and VIIs crowns, and thus hold three of the four RFUW Championships on offer.

 

In the XVs season, the stand-out performances have come against sides much bigger than us, as we have aimed to play a fast, adventurous style in all three teams, irrespective of the weather!

 

 

Success has come by blending a number of long-term stalwarts in key positions with a group of the most talented teenagers we have ever seen. First team teenagers: Tina Lee, Sara Anastasi, Lucy Howland, Rowena Burnfield, Fiona Pocock (10 tries), Stacey Hollier, Sam Cornborough and Alice Richardson.

 

We had four main aims this year: 1. Play great rugby with a young first team. 2 Be the best second team around. 3. Win the South East league in the 3s. 4. Establish a centre of 7s excellence. The 3s narrowly missed their goal and finished runners-up for the second consecutive year.  Targets 1 and 2 were hit and the 7s campaign has started very strongly.  

                                                                  XVs season:

Team

     Pld

     Won

Drawn

     Lost

 Pts for & against

   Points diff

1st XV

    16

     13

   0

     3

     764  -  127

    + 637

2nd XV

    18

     10

   0

     8

     329  -  279

     + 50

3rd XV

    11

      9

   0         

               2           

     412   -  69

    + 343

Total 

   45

     32

   0

    13

    1505 – 475

   + 1030

 

The first team were led by a great double-act, Dawn Mason and Nicki Drinkwater, still masters of their positions and both calm at the helm in the heat of battle. They led a team averaging 22 years of age and yet, astonishingly came within one converted try of the Premiership title. Saracens, the league winners, were a marvellous side, physically strong and tactically astute. They thoroughly deserved to be unbeaten champions. Although we lost twice to them and once to Wasps, we still would have been champions if we had scored a converted try at the death of our first league encounter with Saracens. This is because we won a bonus point in 13 out of 14 league matches. This is unique in Premiership history.

 

We scored more Prem 1 points than any other team (654) and more tries (101) and had the most individual try scorers (17). The win away at Blaydon is the highest score in Premiership history (118-5).

 

Claire ‘Oli’ Davies was our top try scorer with 16, one ahead of Nicki Drinkwater. Emma ‘Fish’ Leyland was the most prolific forward, scoring 4 tries in one Premiership game and 8 overall. Alice Richardson was Player of the Year, the youngest in our 21 year history at just 19. Alice was the team’s top points scorer with 254 points and a kick success average of 64.5%.

 

Pre-season, we were concerned for our second team in Prem 2. We feared that the long journeys to Waterloo, Thirsk, Plymouth and Leeds against much bigger opposition would demoralise our relatively young team. Fortunately we had a Captain of grit and passion, who galvanised the team to play for each other all season. Rachael Samuels was a fine leader on and off the pitch.

 

In the battle of the second teams, we did the double over Saracens, including a 50-0 trouncing at home and then beat Wasps with a bonus point thanks to a brilliant hatrick from Meghan Mutrie, our flying Canadian. We relied on experience as always and Clare Hoppe and Jessie Matiaszuk were consistently strong contributors. The stand-out players were Hannah Farquarson, Laura Kapo and Eryka Wessel.

 

A big hand to Canada and Ireland for lending us their finest this year. Jackie Shiels, Jo O’Sullivan, Lynn Cantwell and Aideen Robbins are marvellous celtic additions to Richmond, and we had no less than 8 creative Canadians contributing on and off the pitch! (check out the muddy photo above).

 

In the threes, Sam Wilson and Terri Siwek led the team at different times with a combined age of…sorry type writer jam for a moment there. Susie Dixon, Katie Clements, Aussie Jane, and ‘Eddie’ Stribling were big contributors, and Ali Burnett and Aideen Robbins, are stars to watch out for in the future.  

 

On the coaching side, a big hand for the former players who have stepped up to the challenge: Lisa O’Keefe, Helen Street, Jenny Sutton, Helen Ives and Karen Findlay. I’m still trying to coax them back into playing! Anthony and Ian have nurtured the threes and twos through the long season, and Duncan, Simon and I remain keen to step up to the challenge next year!

 

   Richmond 1st VII Winners of the inaugural Middlesex sevens played on home soil

 

Since Easter we have focused on 7s. So far we have reached four finals and won three trophies including the National Sevens title. We beat Saracens 31-5 in a one-sided final. Other notable scalps include a 69-0 win over Wasps and a 50-0 win over Wales in the Amsterdam semi final. Next season we aim to take a winning team to Dubai, Amsterdam and Kinsale.

 

We won the inaugural National Tens championship two weeks ago in appalling conditions by beating Saracens in the semi and Worcester in the final. Nicky Meston and Claire ‘Smiler’ Muir showed what great all round rugby players they are by having a big impact in every round.

 

All in all, a fine year with so many in the club stepping up to the challenge of playing three competitive XVs every week.  We’re the only club in the world who can. Next year we’re gunning for the Premiership.

 

Mark Francis 11/06/07