If Stockport Rugby Club’s ladies teams are playing competitive rugby next season then they’ll have the Free Your Inner Warrior campaign to thank.
Developed by England Rugby, the campaign is aimed at women and girls between the ages of 18 and 35 to encourage greater female participation in contact rugby across the country.
Over the past 18 months, 7,000 women have attended rugby training sessions – or Warrior Camps – and Stockport’s session on August 19 was a roaring success.
Poor weather was not enough to deter 11 hardy souls, all of which enjoyed the Warrior Camp enough to give rugby another try.
“Unfortunately it was really heavy rain, but those that turned up were really keen,” said ladies rugby chair Kate Avery.
“They have all since come to training so it was definitely successful.”
The Warrior Camp could prove invaluable for Stockport RFC, with Avery optimistic that the campaign could instigate a much-needed boost in playing personnel.
“We went into the Warrior Camp without a full squad – we had 12 players,” Avery explained.
“Our ambition was to have a squad of 15 so that we can play 15-a-side. Hopefully in a month or two we will have a full squad with a full set of reserves.”
More than 2,600 women took part in 150 Warrior Camps held across the country in May, vastly exceeding the RFU’s target of 1,500 players, with 174 camps being held this time around from August 18 to September 3.
Like women’s rugby in general, the future is bright for Stockport’s ladies. A big 12 months awaits for the club and the Inner Warrior campaign could play a huge part.
“We’ve got quite a few friendlies and development matches booked in against teams that are in a similar situation to us in the hope that next season we’re able to enter a league,” explained Avery.
“We want to get to the stage where we are competitive.”
The Warrior Camps are fun, non-committal rugby taster sessions for women considering taking up contact rugby. To sign up for a Warrior camp near you before September 3, go to www.EnglandRugby.com/InnerWarrior