Sheffield Tigers rugby club forms girls team

Captain Hazel Joel and coach Laura Walmsley
Captain Hazel Joel and coach Laura Walmsley
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Sheffield Tigers RUFChave formed a girls team after being inspired by England Women’s World Cup win and appointed two permanent coaches, with extra skill sessions from professional coaches.

ne of these is Laura Walmsley, aged 17, who is studying at King Ecgbert sixth form.

The double sport student is coaching the girls after helping numerous other clubs – turning her attention from predominately football training to rugby.

The determined sport enthusiast runs sessions for nine girls who are Under-15 and has been delighted with the support she has received from the Tigers club.

“This is an all new experience because I’ve never actually played rugby but I saw this as a challenge that I wanted to take on,” the Totley resident said.

“I wanted to promote female sport and it’s amazing for the club to have this girls side because previously it had been very boy-orientated but now there a real difference and feel to the club.

“We’ve had an amazing response at the club and the boys and senior men’s team always ask about the girls after training and have really supported us all.

“I definitely think we can recruit a lot more players and it is an aim to be able to field possibly one or two sides in the future – it just needs to be promoted and more girls should be made aware of this,” added Laura, who is helped in her coaching duties by third year Hallam University student Sinwai Cheung.

One of the girls who has joined the squad is 14-year-old Hazel Joel, after being inspired to take up the sport while watching England women beat Canada 21-9 in August in Paris.

“I have grown up in this club and always loved watching the men play but I was so inspired by the ladies all throughout the World Cup and their victory - it really made me want to be part of a girls side,” the newly appointed Under-15 captain said.

“I don’t get the chance to play at school so I really pushed to have a team here and it’s great to now have both genders represented at the club.

“Everyone has really supported us and we already have such a community feel here because after games and training everyone will come up and socialise together which is great.

“At the moment we are just covering the basics in training but everyone is really taking to it so I hope we can have a full 15-player side very soon.”

A great advocate for the new girls set up is Hazel’s mum – Fran Joel, the treasurer at the club, although she admitted she had her concerns initially.

“I always encouraged my son and stood out on the touchline whatever the weather, but I never considered Hazel taking up the game partly because of how rough it can get,” the 38-year-old said.

“But now I don’t class her any different and I will be there cheering her on because I see how passionate she and the other girls are and I really hope it’s a big success.

“Women are represented very well at the club here on the committee and in various roles so it’s brilliant that we are pushing forward with the girls side.

“This club is a family club and a great community but we also strive to be the best in what we do, so we are looking for lots of girls to come and join and I guarantee once they start they’ll love it.”

Sheffield Tigers RUFC will be working alongside Sheffield Ladies RFC to promote the game and are aiming to run skills sessions and play matches against one another.

Tigers are now looking for girls ages 13, 14, or 15 to join. For more information call 0114 2360075 or email tigers@sheffieldtigers.co.uk. Also visit: www.sheffieldtigers.co.uk or follow them on Twitter: @SheffTigersRUFC