Women’s rugby grows in town

St Mary's High School pupils with Ulster Rugby community coach Marc Beggs. INLM49-166gc
St Mary's High School pupils with Ulster Rugby community coach Marc Beggs. INLM49-166gc

Women’s rugby is on the rise in the Lurgan area, with coaches hoping to build on the interest in the sport shown by a local girls’ school.

The girls of St Mary’s Junior High School have shown great promise in their newly adopted sport and Lurgan Rugby Club are hoping to tap into the interest in women’s rugby by launching a Girls Under 15 team at the club.

Marc Beggs, Community Rugby Coach with Ulster Rugby, explained how St Mary’s got involved with the game of rugby.

He said: “My job is to go around Lurgan, Portadown, Armagh, Banbridge and Dungannon primary schools, secondary schools and girls’ schools encouraging participation in rugby. In particular we target non-rugby playing schools.

“It’s been made possible due to the generous support of the NI Executive and DCAL through the ‘Promoting Equality, Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion Through Sport’ programme.

“The response to girls rugby has been fantastic,” said the 22-year-old, who cited Ireland’s win in the Women’s Six Nations as a contributing factor.

“St Mary’s is one of the schools who have really taken to rugby,” he added.

In terms of the women’s game Mark works alongside Female Rugby Officer Zoe Templeton and during their sessions at St Mary’s Lurgan coach Graeme Hunter has also lent a hand.

Mark, who plays rugby for Portadown and is physio at Banbridge, continued: “Myself, Zoe and Graeme took a rugby session for every class at St Mary’s during PE lessons. We then came back for an after school session and the response has been great.

“We have about 20 girls who are keen to play. I’ve every faith St Mary’s will be able to enter the Girls’ 
Schools’ Cup this year and they’ll do well. These girls should also form the crux of Lurgan Rugby Club’s Girls Under 15 team.”

Pollock Park, home of Lurgan Rugby Club, is the venue for the first training session for Girls Under 15 team. It takes place on Monday, December 16 from 7pm 
to 8.30pm.

Graeme Hunter said: “We’re hoping for a good turn out. We know the girls at St Mary’s are keen. This is an opportunity for girls from all over the town, from junior high age to fourth form, to come along and give rugby a try.”