• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Female scene flourishing ahead of Girls' Cup Finals weekend

Skint knees, burst noses, dunts, clatters and clobbers?

Ayr's girls compete at December's launch of the Brewin Dolphin Girls' Cup at the Wardie Playing Fields in Edinburgh. Picture: Billy Murray/SNS
Ayr's girls compete at December's launch of the Brewin Dolphin Girls' Cup at the Wardie Playing Fields in Edinburgh. Picture: Billy Murray/SNS

You need a fairly sturdy constitution for the crash, bang, wallop world of rugby but Scotland's lassies are made of stern stuff.

Two men overseeing developments on the country's flourishing female scene will testify to that ahead of this weekend's Brewin Dolphin Girls' Cup Finals at Bridgehaugh in Stirling.

"I think they enjoy the rough and tumble of the game," said Iain Park, whose team of youngsters from the old rugby hotbed of Langholm will continue to punch above their weight when they contest the under-15 final for a fifth successive time with a tie against Glasgow's Hillhead-Jordanhill.

From the Borders to Burns country, the feeling is similar. "We introduced them to touch rugby but the girls came to us and asked if they could play the full contact version; we didn't need to persuade them," added Stuart Fenwick, the community development officer for an Ayr side which takes on Murrayfield Wanderers in the under-18s showpiece.

As the oldest rugby club in the game's traditional heartland of the Borders, and the unofficial Scottish champions back in 1959, Langholm's first-team fortunes have waned. These days, they muddle on in RBS East Division One and coaches often face a late rummage around to make up 15 players for a Saturday skirmish. The enthusiasm for the game in these parts is undiminished, though, and at the grassroots level - on the girls front too - there remain optimistic signs despite the small pool at Park's disposal.

"Langholm Academy has 230 pupils," noted Park, whose team fought back from 34-17 down in last year's final against Auchterarder at Murrayfield to earn a 34-34 draw and share the trophy. "Earlston has 1400, Peebles has 1400, Hawick has 1000. We are competing with them and at a youth level, both girls and boys, I think we have bucked the trend a bit. When the first team struggle to put a team out, it may not register on the Richter scale what we are doing with the juniors but there is still a great appetite for the game and, as far as the girls are concerned, it's really taken off." The same can be said about Ayr. From having no women's section 18 months ago, Fenwick's efforts continue to bear fruit and he and his support staff, which includes Scotland cap Emily Irvine, will have teams in both the under-15 and under-18 finals at Bridgehaugh.

"It's come from nothing really," said Fenwick. "The other night we had 40 girls at training; there won't be many teams in Scotland like that. We're working hard to promote the girls' game locally, encouraging youngsters to take part in friendly tournaments to get a flavour of rugby and from there they can take it further."

Park will have a keen eye on one particular player this weekend. Lisa Thomson kicked the late conversion that earned Langholm a share of the spoils in last year's under-15 final and she will stride out for Murrayfield Wanderers this time in the under-18s match against Ayr.

"She will go on to play for Scotland, I've no doubt about that," insisted Park.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

222811