This term has seen huge success for UYWRUFC, with the 1st XV continuing their dominant, unbeaten streak and the club as a whole growing to the point of setting up a development squad. Many girls join having never played rugby before, and Taster Week in the Autumn term is their chance to experience the game – and the start of their journey playing the most incredible sport.
Read 2nd XV player Beth’s reflections on the start of her UYWRUFC journey in 2017.
The start of a new academic year is an exciting time - it heralds the moment when after a long summer away we are finally able to step back onto the rugby pitch to give it our all in the new season. It also invariably brings Taster Week, our week of taster sessions for all those who wish to give our beloved sport a try at university. Whether they've been playing for years or have never picked up a rugby ball in their life, all have been welcome to join in and become a part of UYWRUFC.
And our various taster sessions this term have made me think back to just over a year ago. When I was one of those freshers.
When I arrived in York, I came with little to no rugby experience to my name. I had never tried (or even wanted to try) full contact rugby, and in my seven years at high school I had picked up a rugby ball only once - the July before I came to university when I played touch rugby for one afternoon in the Italian mountains. I knew girls who did play, including friends who played for our county, but I never imagined I would be one of them.
I should say that I'm no stranger to contact sports; the last seven years of my life had been spent practising martial arts. In fact I much prefer contact sports over non-contact (I never really got the point of netball). But rugby? Rugby felt like too much of a leap into the unknown. So why did I choose rugby at university?
The answer lay initially with my decision to try out a team sport again (I missed the camaraderie) but rugby was only one of many that I considered. The reason I stayed with rugby - aside from the contact! - was the fact that I came away from every taster session last year with a smile on my face and a sense of achievement. I went to those taster sessions believing I would be laughed off the pitch for being terrible; I left finding a sport that I could easily fall in love with and a group of girls who welcomed me into their club despite my obvious inexperience.
I couldn't tell you exactly what we did in those taster sessions. I do remember there was one where it started to rain, and I remember one on the 3G pitches where Ian, our coach, made me sprint a short distance before jabbing his thumb towards the backs. I vaguely remember doing some dodging and 2v1 drills, but that's it in terms of specifics. What I do remember though is how much I utterly enjoyed it. I remember telling a friend a month later that I could not regret choosing rugby at university.
Though last year was not perfect for me and I didn't play as much as I would have liked (I’m very injury prone) rugby was easily one of my highlights of first year. And there's no feeling quite like the intensity of a match - the determination to win, to make those tackles and contribute something to the team - or knowing that no matter what, you have fourteen other girls on that pitch who have your back.
I can't imagine going back to individual sports anytime soon.