It’s been a great season for the Queen’s University Ladies Rugby Squad, Rugby Development Officer Robert Ford talks briefly about the transformation that the club has undergone this year.
At the start of the season we introduced Queen’s Rugby Academy places for Female players for the first time. This gave promising players access to gym membership, Physio support and put in place strength and conditioning programmes for each academy player. We also started training twice a week, and worked hard to recruit freshers to the University, targeting those with experience in other sports. Before long we had a regular squad of around 25 at training.
The girls entered the Ulster Development League, and won all their games, in convincing fashion. The development league proved to be an excellent opportunity for the beginners in our squad to play and experience rugby at a level that was safe for them, all the while learning from the more experienced players. At the end of the league campaign their record was as follows:
At the end of their domestic season the girls had the opportunity to compete in the Rosie Stewart Ulster Cup, against a number of AIL clubs. In their group they drew with Belfast Harlequins 17- 17, beat Carrick 65-5 and were competitive before succumbing to AIL 1 side Cooke. In the 5/6th place play off of the competition, QUB beat Sligo 51-12 in an excellent performance. The tournament was a great experience for our side, providing the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best sides in Ulster.
The Girls also took part in the CUSAI Intervarsity’s competition in Galway in Division 2, again they won all their games including winning the final 75-5 against Cork IT. They had victories against Limerick IT, Cork IT (x2) DCU and Waterford IT. This was made all the more impressive by the fact that there were a number of Irish internationals dotted throughout the other teams. Ashleigh Baxter was awarded player of the final.
Their record was as follows:
As usual Carrick 10s saw the conclusion of the Ulster women’s season. The women continued their excellent season so far adding the Abbey Insurance Ladies 10s title, to the Ulster Ladies Development League, and CUSAI Intervarsities Championship that they have already secured this season. The girls won the tournament in resounding fashion, without conceding a single point, beating Belfast Harlequins (22-0), Ballymoney (24-0), and Enniskillen (22-0) before facing a very strong Harlequins side in the final. The girls were 27-0 up with about 10 mins of the second half gone; the game was halted after an injury to ‘Quins player and QUB student Kathryn Hanna. QUB Ladies would like to take this opportunity to wish Kathryn a speedy recovery. In another success for the Queen’s Team, Cathy Craig was voted player of the tournament.
The season ending statistics were as follows:
At the end of the season, we, as always, will have some players moving on; we want to wish our Americans Melissa Zener and Betsy Bissonette every success as they return home. Melissa, in particular has been a long standing member of the club and during her time here has performed almost every role in the backroom staff, as well as playing multiple positions on the pitch. She will be sorely missed and hopefully will return at some point.
Looking forward to next season, the club hopes to be playing in AIL Division 2N, or whatever equivalent will exist come the start of the next season, and hopefully a number of the squad will feature in the Ulster Women’s side come the interpro series.