Rhondda Girls Show The Rugby Pros How It’s Done

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‘In order to succeed, we must first believe we can’

In every quiet village, lively town orbustling city you will find a rugby pitch. Rugby is the heart that beats inevery Welshman or woman and brings with it a passion that cannot be learned orrivaled. The spectacular game brings the Welsh people together in a symphony ofsound that can shake the very foundations of the most hardened players who dareentering our Millennium fortress. This passion knows no limit, does notdiscriminate, and has spanned generations. The sporting landscape is changing,fast! Unlike days of the past where women were mere spectators it is nowabundantly clear what a force they can be in the game. The women’s game hasevolved and is now the pinnacle example of how to combine speed, power, anddetermination with a classy elegance and careful finesse that is a pleasure towatch and a privilege to behold.  

The unrivaled desire to play the game andlive the passion is strong but nowhere is it felt more than in the South Walesvalleys. Rhondda Cynon Taff’s Youth Engagement and Participation service, alongwith the 5×60 team, believe it is absolutely imperative that opportunities areprovided to any and all young women who wish to be part of the unstoppableforce that is women’s rugby. Through the valuable work and influential presenceof 5×60 officers and YEPS staff in secondary school young women’s rugby is nolonger a goal but a stark reality.

On the 25th of March 2015, afterweeks of planning and cooperation with Caroline Spanton – National Women’sRugby Manager – The University of South Wales and secondary schools from allcorners of Rhondda Cynon Taff, it was time for a competition. Twenty-one teamsfrom ten secondary school across RCT arrived at a state of the art facilityready for a show down. Anticipation and excitement was radiating from more than100 players who were hotly anticipating their first match. The intensity andexhilaration was substantially enhanced by the presence of Cardiff Blues rugbyclub officials and Caroline Spanton from the WRU.

The teamtalks before the finals – Porth County Community School

‘Itwas excellent to see so many girls taking part and enjoying rugby at thisevent. Girls rugby is definitely growing at a rapid pace and we need to ensurethat they have accessible outlets to support their interest in the rightformats to keep them hooked. I am looking forward to working closely with RCT Sports Development and the 5×60 team to develop exit routes to ensurewe foster the demand seen today.’

CarolineSpanton – National Women’s Rugby Manager, WRU

The group stages saw a total of 44individual matches meaning there was never a dull moment; displays of sportingentertainment could be seen from any and all vantage points. With a fantasticresponse from the years 7 & 8 players the organisers were able to create threepool groups which brought the facility close to capacity! Each school wouldface all teams in their group, giving them four chances to gain those valuablepoints that would grant them entry into the finals round. The older year (9 &10)teams faced an even tougher challenge of one large group with more matchesmaking the try difference ever more crucial.

The group stages were intense but this wasto be expected as the caliber of players combined with a top quality facilitywould inevitably result in a spectacular showcase of women’s rugby.  All teams fought hard swapping positionsregularly; onlookers could be forgiven for mistaking the group matches for thefinals. Time inevitable pressed on into the afternoon and so did the matchcount. It was getting close to crunch time now, what teams would have doneenough to progress into the final and which would go back to the training field?The time had finally come and the whistle sounded to kick off the last matchesof the group stage. The pressure had not fazed the players, the passes wereaccurate and the footwork akin to a professional ballet dancer. With every trycame a flurry of excitement from the sidelines and some intense mental math inan attempt to decipher the try and points difference.   

Keeping track of the points difference washard as tries were coming in thick and fast! The clock continued to count down.With a dropped ball here and a side step there followed by a blustering dashfor the line the winners eventually emerged, the group stages were over. The spectatorsalready had their fill of entertainment but were about to indulge in a feast ofa finals round. The finalists on the other hand were hungry for victory whilethe coaches and 5×60 officers had been through a rollercoaster of emotionssupporting their school. Ysgol Gyfun Cymer and Aberdare would play the finalsmatch for the younger team while old rivals, Porth county Community School andYsgol Gyfun Cymer, were to face off in the final show down for the seniors. Cymer and Porth had already played in thegroup stages and the thrilling match came to a draw so there were unsettledscores for both sides.

Cymer started strong while Porth took awhile to warm up. After 5 minutes Cymer was ahead by 2 tries but Porth were notprepared to sit back and accept losing. After a short team talk from the Porthteam captain the players rallied and came back to the form that placed themfirst in the group stages. With 1 minute to go, teams equal and still fightinghard – not giving an inch – the ball was spilled. ‘Turn over, Cymer’s ball,’shouted the referee. This was Cymer’s chance to take the match, would thepressure prove too much or would they grasp victory? Tap and go! The ball wasfired across the field to the Cymer winger who didn’t need a second opportunityto pin her ears back and run for the line, her pace proving too much for thePorth defense to deal with. Cymer scored and the final whistle blew. The daywas done for both years 7 & 8 and years 9 & 10 teams. After a stellar performancein both categories the teams from Ysgol Gyfun Cymer were victorious and tookthe glory along with the silverware.

“After severalweeks of supporting training at after school activities there was lots ofexcitement around the chance to play in this tournament. The skills and abilitieshad grown over the weeks and it really showed during the games and just rewardto the girls for all their efforts. As a girls rugby coach it was great to seeso many young girls involved in the sport and playing with smiles on theirfaces. PCCS reached the final and lost but the day was very much more about theparticipation than the result, well organized and credit to all involved fromRCT 5×60.”

Mark Hutton -School/Club U18’s Girls Coach

Wednesday 25th March 2015 saw aday that none will forget. The competition was a resounding success and is animportant milestone for women’s sport and school girl rugby in wales. Eventslike these would not exist without the strong community links the YEPS team and5x60 officers establish with the Active Valleys programme that provided top classvolunteers and referees who ensured the day ran smoothly and to time. Thecontribution of Active Valleys and the presence of the Cardiff Blues and WRUofficials made the day an enjoyable and unforgettable one for all involved.

‘Thebuy in from Sport Development, Active Valley and the WRU was instrumental tothe set up and running of the day. The work they put in shows how far girlsrugby has come in recent years.’

Rhys Rogers – 5×60 Officer and Competition Organiser

Rhondda Cynon Taff has made a commitment toyoung women in every school, home and club. This commitment is one that willensure a sustainable stream of opportunities in a wide variety of sports andwill use dedicated professionals to guarantee that sport does not end with thefinal bell of the school but continues throughout the lives of all young women.Rhondda Cynon Taff can stand by this commitment. We are Rhondda Cynon Taff andwe are at the forefront of empowerment!

Related Article: Rhondda Girls Show Off Awesome Soccer Skills

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