Time to take advantage of community!
This video recently went up and spread round Durham University like wildfire. It’s from an intercollegiate match in a university which is has achieved the holy grail of women’s rugby development, making it as significant as men’s rugby.
The way it has been achieved is the community which women’s rugby brings. Using the advantage of a collegiate system it now boasts more WRFCs than the rest of the north-east universities combined. In the last few years it has used the base of 10s women’s rugby in a beginners league to train up and develop players to join their two 15s university squads, of which one recently beat the as-yet unbeaten premiership leaders of Leeds Metropolitan.
But the secret to successfully spreading this development isn’t in spreading a collegiate system (although this is the key to sports success in durham), it’s in setting up the communities that the WRFCs bring. Each year the teams take up huge recruitment efforts which see several dozen sign up for each squad (all 11 of them). Bolstered by drinking socials the WRFCs become one of the key parts in the social lives of many new to university. The key to this working is the low-level 10s tournaments which these new players get to experience as their introduction to the games, not being flung into inter-university level 15s games from the start.
Durham university has managed this amazing transformation into one of the top national universities for women’s rugby using these two elements. Low-level competition for beginners, and community for those in a new place. Being able to feed these low-level teams into national league sides combines the friendly with the competitive in a way many could do well to learn from.