Dunfermline Press

Women’s rugby is on the rise at Dunfermlin­e

- By Ross Hart reporter rhart@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

WOMEN’S rugby in Dunfermlin­e is on the up as participat­ion numbers increase alongside an upturn in results on the field.

Dunfermlin­e Rugby Club’s ladies side are preparing to contest a series of ‘play-off’ matches to determine final placings in Scottish Rugby’s Midlands / East Division Two, of which they proudly sit top after six wins from seven matches.

After the first round of fixtures, which each team faces each other once, the eight-team division will split into the top four and bottom four, where another round of games will take place.

Under the guidance of head coach, Gary Kenhard, who was appointed to the role in July 2022, the team have managed victories over Dundee Valkyries 2nd XV, Perthshire, Bannockbur­n, Kirkcaldy and RDVC so far this season, whilst a fixture against Leith was awarded to them after their opponents had insufficie­nt players to raise a team.

Their only defeat was away to fourth-placed Lismore, by a close 17-7 margin, and has given them a significan­t opportunit­y to finish top of the league.

It continues an upward journey for the women’s team, which began its path in January 2019 when the then head coach of the men’s first XV, Mark Dobson, organised a free training programme for female players at McKane Park.

Two months later, a Dunfermlin­e team had played its first match, and took to the field in September 2021 for its maiden league season.

A first-ever competitiv­e win followed in March last year and Sheryl Wilson, who captained the team on that occasion, is thrilled with the progress the team has made.

Injury has kept her out of playing action this season, with Lisa Hamilton-Martin taking on the captaincy, with Chloe Alcorn her viceskippe­r, but she has maintained involvemen­t on the sidelines.

Speaking to Press Sport about the progress the team have made, Sheryl explained: “We started our league in August against Dundee’s second team with a win, and ever since then we’ve been powering our way through the league.

“I definitely see a big difference this year. We’ve had a lot of new players join us, some had played rugby before, but a lot of them had never played, and they’ve all taken to the sport really well. They’ve merged themselves into a team, and you can see that on the pitch.”

Like many women’s teams, Dunfermlin­e have in the past struggled for numbers to field at team, but Sheryl feels the club is now in a more comfortabl­e position.

“While you still see a lot of teams borrowing players from other teams for their games on a Sunday, we’re finding that this is having to happen less and less,” she said. “Instead of having to borrow players to bring ourselves up to 15 players, we’re now finding that teams are doing that to fill their subs bench.

“Because we’ve had this influx of players this year, it’s definitely made a big difference.

“We started off as a developmen­t team, and we had a couple of seasons in the league where we didn’t do so well, but I now we’re just starting to get a wee bit more comfortabl­e, playing the teams that we’re used to playing, and we’re getting a bit more of a feel for it.”

The addition of specialist forwards and backs coaches is just one of the things Sheryl believes has contribute­d to their success

“We’ve been working on our attack, our defence and our handling skills in training, we’ve been doing all we can to keep the numbers up, keep drawing in more people and keep the injuries down,” she said.

“Having a forwards coach and a backs coach as well has really helped. We’ve had joint training sessions sometimes with Kirkcaldy, and we’ve tried to integrate ourselves in with the girls team as well.

“I think we’re doing everything we can at the minute to integrate ourselves more with the club, with other teams, and just to play rugby, which is the main thing we want to do.”

Dates for the play-off fixtures have yet to be announced, but the team are inviting anyone interested in playing to McKane on Saturday November 18, November 25, December 2 and December 9, from 10-11am.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom