The Messenger Online

In Conversation with Phoebe and Morgan

JN: Morgan, tell me a bit about Diss Rugby Club, as I hadn’t realised there was a girls/ladies
Morgan: Yes, it very much has a ladies section with several age groups: U.11 (Yr6), U.13
(Yr7&8), U.15 (Yr 9 &10) and U.18 (yrs 11/12/13). The section is growing rapidly and new girls
and ladies are always made very welcome and we are trying to restart a ladies’ team. One way
we are trying to do this is by running an “Inner Warrior” programme which is an English RFU
programme to encourage ladies into the game by trying the basics of rugby – passing, kicking
and tackling, coupled with enjoyable fitness training. It’s a great sport because it puts its core
values at the heart of everything and at every level: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline
and sportsmanship. Because it’s a team sport, there is a position or role for anyone and
everyone regardless of size, shape, confidence or ability and we all work together to get the ball
over the line! It’s definitely not a sport just for boys; this season the RFU issued 48 professional
contracts as they build the ladies game!

JN: When do you start training for the new season? Phoebe: We have started pre-season training in July, which means we are not playing contact rugby, rather focusing on fitness and skills but all within large and smaller touch rugby games which keeps it fun and means that we don’t really notice the fitness training! During the season, we tend to train and play touch rugby together: u11 up to u18 and the ladies doing Inner Warrior, all mixed up together. It’s really fun and inspiring, watching and playing with more experienced and better players. Several of our U15s and U18 are representing Eastern Counties and this may lead to some being selected onto the player pathway which feeds into London Saracens and then hopefully onto the international stage!

JN: When do you train? Phoebe: During the season, we train on a Wednesday evening for an hour and a half from 7.00 pm until 8.30 pm and play on Sunday. If there isn’t a match on Sunday we train in the morning. We are hoping that there will be a tour this year too where we all go off as a ladies section and play 2 or 3 clubs over a long weekend. I think the section has been to Newcastle previously, playing Morpeth and Tynedale. It would be great to have that time away together having fun both on the rugby pitch and off it. It’s not all work and no play … every month or so we have a cake night too: we train as usual and finish a bit early to have some cake, drinks and socialise in the clubhouse. The cakes are delicious. JN: When did you both take-up Rugby? Phoebe: I only started playing rugby mid-way through last season. Morgan: I have been playing since aged 11. In fact, I met Phoebe on her first night at training and we hit it off straight away and have been great friends since. It’s been a really good way to make friends outside of our school social groups. We have even made friends with girls from other teams because we play against them twice in the season and often we play with them in order to make up 13 a side teams when we are at rugby festivals and tournaments. We really enjoy catching up with them in the clubhouse after the match when we are having our after- match meal and drink. JN: You’re obviously both really enthusiastic about Rugby. Why do you think it is such a great Sport? Phoebe: Rugby is such a great sport for friendship, I think it is because it is a physical contact sport and although we are competing we have to be disciplined and respect one another and know that not only are we responsible for our own safety but also that of the other players. JN: Do you think it is a dangerous sport? Phoebe: Is rugby dangerous? I wouldn’t say dangerous; it’s definitely physical and its strongly advised to wear suitable protection (like mouth guards and head guards) but that is like hockey, cricket, boxing, or karate, or horse riding or climbing! I have had a number of knocks and the bruises to show for it but nothing a week’s recovery hasn’t sorted. JN: Phoebe, do you think it has helped your confidence? Phoebe: My confidence has really grown since I started playing and I love the team spirit at training and in matches. My favourite thing about rugby is meeting up with my friends from the other clubs and laughing together about the fun things that happened during the game – be it a huge tackle, or passes that went astray, kicks that went backwards and comparing scrapes and bruises. JN: What advice would you give to any girls, like yourselves who might be interested in playing rugby? Morgan: My advice is, if you wanted to try rugby, have fun and get fitter, do it, come along and don’t be daunted – the coaches are really fun and welcoming and you’ll make friends straight away. You don’t need any special kit straight away, just trainers, shorts and t shirt will do and maybe mouth guards. The club has a shop where you get great value second-hand kit. If you are interested in coming along and playing even if it is your first time, please contact James Stanley (Director of Ladies Rugby) on 07702 403871 or email