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The life of a rugby fresher

Freshers week………

At the Fresher's Fair, multiple stalls are eager for you to sign up to join their club/sports team. Many try and bribe you via free stationary - is it really worth signing up to the debating society in return for a free fridge magnet? Everyone will give you the same advice “join a club and you will make loads of friends”, or “the more you put into university life the more you will get out”. But which club will be best for me?

I have played rugby for a number of years. I started playing contact rugby at the age of 12/13 and loved it instantly, continuing on to play for my club, county and divisional level until the point of moving to university at 18. Being so familiar with the growing sport, you may think I would instantly be attracted to joining the university team here at York, but not necessarily. The atmosphere and style of rugby at county level is very competitive as are the people you play with, and people can lose sight of why they took up the sport in the first place. The sense of camaraderie becomes lost in the race to impress the coaches and secure selection. Training becomes a drag not a pleasure. I began to lose my love of the game.

So, I came to the first training session on 22 Acres, unsure whether I wanted to continue with rugby or perhaps change direction completely. As naturally, I am not the most confident of people, I left that first training session thinking what if no-one liked me or what if I didn’t have what it took to play at Women’s level despite my experience. What about the social side? Would I be expected to go out after every game and consume a minimum of 10 pints of lager? You know what the perception of a rugby team is- all loud and constantly drunk. Don’t worry if you don’t drink, I can only manage a half…

After the first few training sessions I was positioned at Fly-Half for the first XV; I have never looked back. I can honestly say the University of York Women’s Rugby Team is like no other team I have ever played for. The girls are the kindest and some of the most talented girls I have met - they are up there with some of the girls who play for England! It is certain to say that everyone supports each other, and our coach Ian has tremendous faith in us. We are now unbeaten for two seasons and last season were voted club of the year at the York sport awards …… Ian was a proud coach!

Participating in Rugby at University has helped me massively. It is my way of relieving stress, a place where I can forget about all my worries and just have fun with good friends – friends I know I will keep for life. I don’t believe I would have been able to get through some of the stressful times of exams and deadlines without it – you have no idea how running around a muddy field, tackling one of your friends and dumping them in the mud can help. It has also increased my confidence and determination to succeed incredibly.

UYWRUFC is the best team I’ve ever played for- and there have been quite a few! We all rely on and support each other on the pitch but that support extends beyond rugby. I have made memories I will never forget from team bonding in the woods, dressing up as camels at the club social, to going on tour to Lisbon and having countless tequila shots ….what happens on tour stays on tour.

Don’t worry if you have never played before - there are multiple of other girls who have never touched a rugby ball and before they know it, they are playing games every week. This club welcomes players of all abilities, and there really is a position suitable for everyone.

Since joining the club as a fresher, with little faith or confidence in myself, I can honestly say that as Club Captain of UYWRUFC this year, I am like a different person. I have found my love of the game again and have never enjoyed playing as much as I do now.

Come and join UYWRUFC!!

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