SLIDESHOW: Not just a man’s game - South Yorkshire rugby squad in recruitment drive

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Scrums, shouting and plenty of mud - there are many who might think rugby is only a man’s game.

But, they’d be wrong.

WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS     Scrum L>R Jo Clark, Rachel Goodall, Lian Kirkbride, Charli Parvin, Clar Boot

WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS Scrum L>R Jo Clark, Rachel Goodall, Lian Kirkbride, Charli Parvin, Clar Boot

The sport is picking up popularity across the country, riding high on the success of now 15-a-side world champions England Women.

And internationally Australian women’s Sevens player Georgia Page made headlines after a tough tackle left her with a blood-smeared face, but she got straight back up and continued playing.

Now South Yorkshire female union squad Doncaster Demons is also trying to recruit new members in a bid to spread the word about the sport.

“I’m the smallest person ever, five foot two and a half at a push and I weight about eight-and-a-half stone so I don’t look like your typical rugby player”, said team member Danielle Martin, a 25-year-old youth worker from Askern, Doncaster.

WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS     L>R Danni Martin, Lian Kirkbride, Claire Parvin, Jo Clark. doing Line In

WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS L>R Danni Martin, Lian Kirkbride, Claire Parvin, Jo Clark. doing Line In

“One of the most common things that people ask is ‘do you play proper rugby?’ because they don’t get that women play proper contact rugby.

“We are trying to raise awareness on the back of the England team success but I would say it is still little known.

“Last year we ran the Pitch and Play sessions in the six week holidays and we didn’t get anybody turn up so we are trying to really push it this time.”

The Demons have been training since 2000 - and their members include a teenager aged 19, a woman in her 50s, an Army soldier and mums who had never tackled the sport before.

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS Laura French

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS Laura French

They travel around the UK for games and are currently second in their league.

Danielle, who joined the team last year after reading about them on the internet, added: “The benefits of it are fitness, it is a massive team game, we have got a whole new support and community network from it so it is like a little family.

“There are 14 people going on to that pitch together as a team, it is more than just a sport for me. It’s also good fun and you learn something new.

“I used to play football and I wouldn’t have said that anybody can just play football - but with rugby, as long as you can run then you are fine.

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS  L>R  Charli Parvin, Jo Clark

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS L>R Charli Parvin, Jo Clark

“You will pick up the game and all the members are really supportive as well, you don’t just learn from the coach.

“We get to travel as well, there is a game in Manchester soon and we even went to the Isle of Man for our last league game.”

There are around 20 women who regularly practice with the Demons, depending on their other commitments. Members are also involved with fundraising and community work.

Players are aged over 18 come from as far afield as Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Dinnington and Doncaster.

The team is also backing England Rugby’s 2015 campaign to encourage women to try their hands at the sport and aim to get 10,000 extra women playing contact rugby by 2017.

Currently there are around 25,000, and participation has doubled since 2004.

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS  L>R Charli Parvin, Lian Kirkbride

NSST FEATURE WOMEN'S RUGBY TEAM APPEAL FOR MORE MEMBERS L>R Charli Parvin, Lian Kirkbride

A Pitch and Play session was held last weekend at Castle Park in Armthorpe, with another planned for Saturday February 20 from noon to 1.30pm.

Demons’ team manager Gemma French said the squad wanted to ‘lead the way for women’ into the game, which uses the same pitch sizes, equipment and rules as the men’s game.

She added: “We hope these friendly Pitch up and Play sessions will encourage women to be involved in rugby.

“We welcome all ages and ability, and there is no previous experience necessary.”

The free session will include an introduction to the techniques of rugby, such as passing, kicking and tackling. There is no need to book.

Food and drink will be available to buy, and would-be players only need to bring trainers and warm clothing. There will also be activities to keep young children busy.

Anybody who is interested can contact Sal Lack with queries at sallylack@rocketmail.com or by calling 07971027916.