Girls’ Rugby at Portlaoise RFC completed its fourth year in 2013 and has become recognised as one of the top club teams in Leinster.
Youth co-ordinator Harry Nicholls along with Jean Delahunty organised the first girls’ training session at the club in 2010 with Alison Miller, Yvonne Delaney and Carrie Connell as coaches. Only one girl had ever played before. That initial young squad were the first girls to play in the new Aviva Stadium.
This year Mark Roberts joined as head coach and Pat Hooban as forwards coach while David Corri took on the management role.
Girl’s Mini rugby at the club was managed by head coach Dianne Lawlor, and coaches Rebecca Mullen and Anna O’Neill. The Portlaoise Mini girls, aged between six and twelve, safely played an adaptation of the game and trained for the real thing. The highlight of their season so far was the match against Portarlington that produced tackling, running, and plenty of tries.
Portlaoise girls are building a solid base of experienced players and providing a great environment for new entrants.
Portlaoise girls played Tullow, New Ross, Wicklow, Mullingar, Gorey, Portarlington, Navan, Cill Dara, Westmanstown, Naas, and Tullamore during the year. Portlaoise were promoted to Leinster Division One and have played a fine brand of rugby to win every match this season, culminating in a recent victory over Wicklow.
Three Portlaoise players were part of the all-conquering U18 Leinster squad that won the inter-provincial series this year.
The Portlaoise girls’ U-18 and U-15 squads included Geena Behan, Clodagh Behan, Sarah Bennett, Sorcha Brennan, Tara Buggie, Amy Byrne, Áine Comphuijsen, Eimear Corri, Holly Culbert, Sarah Culliton, Chloe Delaney, Ailish Doyle, Rebecca Doyle, Stacey Fee, Éadaoín Griffin, Emma Hooban, Mairéad Keogh, Katie Irwin, Eimear Lynam, Laura McWey, Aoife McCormack, Niamh McGlynn, Aoife McNeill, Róisín McWey, Rachel Mathews, Kate Miller, Abigail Mullen, Jorja Mullen, Rebecca Mullen, Robyn Mullen, Ciara Murphy, Faye Nolan, Anna O’Neill, Maebh Owens, Aisling Page, Orlaith Phelan, Lauren Roberts, Niamh Riordan, Emma Startin and Shona Whelehan.
An exciting style of coaching, promoting leadership roles for every player, enabled the girls to create options for team-mates. The emphasis was on skills, fitness and intelligent rugby. The forwards philosophy of running straight, passing flat and “attacking spaces not faces” provided successful rucking with carefully timed tactical feed to backs. Each game was an enjoyable learning experience.
The girls say that rugby is great because it brings together a group of competitive, athletic, people of all shapes and sizes. Playing together in a team setting helps girls to get to know each other much better.
The majority of the team’s recruiting is by word of mouth, inviting girls to “give it a try” by attending practices. Why don’t you give it a try in the New Year? Come and see Portlaoise face their toughest challenge on Saturday January 4th against the unbeaten combined side of Tullow, Gorey and Greystones known as Tigers.