by Coach Graham Bloxham
Well, where to start? I think the best place to start is at the end of last year where the girls finished on such a high having had a strong season – finishing second in the BUCS league and a record breaking scoreline against Kent at Varsity (44-0). This, coupled with strong leaders being elected onto the committee, meant that right from the get-go this year, they worked tirelessly during Freshers’ Week and at the Freshers’ Fayre, to speak to as many new students as possible and get them passionate about the sport we all love. This saw paid membership numbers soar into the 40s meaning, for the first time, there were tough selection issues for Captain Vic Buswell. This bred competition for starting places and saw skill sets improving quickly. The previous year’s successes attracted two Sport Scholarship players to Christ Church which has once again helped raise the team up. Women’s rugby at Christ Church is one of THE most welcoming and inclusive teams in the country, welcoming not only a range of abilities – from scholars to first timers in rugby – but their fun and ‘one-family’ attitude has seen girls transfer from a range of other sports such as; hockey, cricket, equestrian, pole fitness, athletics, and snow sports, it really is a club to be at if you want to enjoy rugby!
Not only have inclusivity and recruitment numbers been amazing but what makes it outstanding is that the girls that have signed up have maintained a discipline and a hunger to be involved at all levels, on and off the pitch, throughout this season and this has hugely contributed to their successes. We have had outstanding numbers at training, averaging 25-28 each week and a rough average of 16-20 at fitness training each week. Numbers at socials have also hit a record high. This has meant the team has solidly fielded 22 players for, and completed every fixture on the sheet this year. This is something that can be, and has been in the past, tough to do. Players are ultimately here to study for their degrees, some have to work to pay their way and some courses involve going on placements, but the team this year respect that and still manage to organise themselves so that they continue to support each other by turning up each week and training hard.
All of this hard work and dedication has seen the girls reap the rewards of a fantastic season! With a couple of fixtures left to finish the season, the on pitch achievements of this team are as follows;
• League promotion in BUCS South Eastern Conference league 2B to 1A
• Undefeated in every BUCS league game with bonus points won in every game bar one
• No points conceded on their home turf at Stodmarsh Road
• Nearly 100 tries scored with 5 players scoring hat tricks this season
• All abilities and skill levels getting game time based on commitment and effort
• First time the team have gone on to reach the semi finals of the BUCS cup (played KCL and sadly lost 24-5)
• Broke last year’s scoreline record at Varsity (47-0, Captain scored the first try and the last and only conversion!)
• They have maintained good club links with Canterbury RFC where a number of girls (approximately 7/8 current members and a further 6/7 that have played at uni and continued after they have graduated) play on a Sunday as well as the Wednesday afternoon fixtures, which has massively improved the team’s development and longevity
• 6 girls attended trials and now play for the Kent County Women’s team.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this success would go to their heads but nothing could be further from the truth. Throughout these achievements, as a team they have stayed humble and their actions and behaviour off the pitch reflect this to every degree. Straight after the game handshakes are given and ‘3 cheers’ through the tunnel are always heard, even one for the Ref! Their sporting conduct compels them to always invite the opposition back to the pub to socialise with the other team and give recognition to the player, forward and back of the match for both sides. If they don’t have a fixture, they can usually been found in the sidelines of the men’s games cheering them on or sometimes at the hockey, cricket or other sports where some of their team mates also play.
In addition to the overwhelming amount of activity and accomplishment the team has produced this year, the girls have also managed to raise money for charity too! They held a ‘People Auction’ where they auctioned off good deeds (house cleaning, making lunch for someone, lifts home from Club Chemistry, boots cleaned and polished on match day – to name a few) and sold cakes to raise £438.44 for the Injured Rugby Players Foundation. It was a great night and the girls created a lively and fun atmosphere for all who attended. They also found time to help and support one of the Student Union’s fundraising events. They contributed by taking part in a bike ride to the North Pole at the Students Union, for ‘Mind’ and ‘PETA’. The team managed to clock the most hours ridden amongst the 34 other sports teams at Christ Church and that contributed greatly to the final figure raised.
To do everything they have done this year for rugby, in addition to attending lectures, seminars, writing assignments and dissertations, attending placements, and working part time in some cases, is simply phenomenal. This team has victoriously balanced both hard work and enjoyment and balanced developing new players with picking a winning side.