‘What a difference a year makes for the Ladies section.’ Coach Steve Tiernan reflects on the rise of women’s rugby at the Club.
Looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead in 2018, you cannot help but reflect upon the year we have just had as a squad. A year that brought both highs and lows however, with the lows came learning and its this learning that has made the latter half of 2017 one to look back and be proud off.
With the 2016/17 season ending on a high with some great performances against teams that previously took a victory against us for granted and the subsequent retirement of some key players, a summer of restructure and recruitment was needed. A daunting task for most sides however, given the hunger from the remaining players and the excellent support from the club into our vision for the side, a plan was hatched. Numbers started to steadily grow through the exposure we had through our successes in the summers 7s competitions by winning the Skofic’s annual tournament, reaching the final at Chester and coming runner up in the North England Regional finals at West Park Leeds. This allowed us to qualify for the National Finals at the Rec in Bath alongside teams such as Hartpury, Exeter and Wasps ladies. Unfortunately, the logistics and cost prevented us from participating any further however, the confidence it brought to the squad was worth more.
This confidence carried on through pre-season training and with good numbers working hard twice a week, some real belief started to engulf the side. With that, some ‘retired’ players were welcomed back as they found a new hunger for the game and with a good mix of experience and youth, we couldn’t wait for the new season to start.
The new season started with our first game falling foul to the wet September weather so as frustrating as that was, the next game was even more highly anticipated. With strong confident performances securing wins against Carlisle and Garstang we fell to a heavy defeat away to Crewe in what was a bruising encounter. Subsequent wins against Chester and a satisfying win away to the Vagabonds in the Isle of Man were a credit to the spirit of the side. With a further win at home to Altrincham the scene was set for an away game at league leaders Didsbury. To call it a great game is an understatement as it was a phenomenal effort from both sides with the home side coming out on top with a couple of late tries against a Preston side who had gave it all. With our final game away to Carlisle falling foul of the December freeze, 2017 ended with not just a defeat, but more importantly with a greater determination that will carry us well into 2018.
The year has also given us the opportunity to play a 2nd XV against developing sides from around the North West and with more fixtures planned in 2018, the goal is now to stand up a 1st and 2nd XV on the same day this season. Can we do it? I believe so.
A happy new year to you all and thank you for your support to the Ladies in 2017.
Steve Tiernan (Tino)
Senior ladies Head Coach