- Bude Ladies formed following their first Warrior Camp in 2017
- January Warrior Camps help grow the game
Anybody walking along the beach in the Cornish seaside town of Bude last week may have got quite a shock.
Bude Ladies, a rugby team formed last year and made up almost entirely of women who had never picked up a rugby ball before, had chosen to take their weekly training session to the beach.
Ranging from farmers to office workers, Bude Ladies has brought together a mix of women that have become a driving force for the sport in North Cornwall.
“It is absolutely incredible to think how far this team has come,” says Lydia Furse, Bude’s captain who joined the club in the summer.
“The first Warrior Camp was held in February 2017 and 30 women came along including several mums whose children played at the club.
“We’ve now played five friendly matches and will be entering a league for the first time next season and six of them have already gone to represent Cornwall."
"I’m so proud of all our players, we have made this team work around the players’ needs and in the process have built the most amazing friendship group."
“We weren’t afraid to get stuck in”
One of Bude’s group of budding new players is local dairy farmer Hannah Pickhard who was raised in the area.
“Rugby is something I’ve always loved but I’ve never had a chance to try around here,” says Pickhard.
“When I saw the opportunity to try it I was so excited and it has been brilliant fun ever since. Our coach made it easy for everyone, including complete beginners like me, and that’s part of the reason I think it has proved so successful.”
Pickhard admits that with several of the team having a background in farming, they did have some experience when it came to the physical side of the game.
“It is fair to say that I wasn’t afraid of getting muddy or getting stuck in because that is what I do for a living and it is part of the appeal of the sport.”
For fellow newcomer Rachel Shakleton, taking up rugby has changed everything.
“I had always gone along to Bude to take my son to play but never tried it myself. From that first Warrior Camp I knew it was going to become a big part of my life and I was right. My week revolves around rugby and the team now."
With support from Bude RFC as well as RFU community rugby coach Neil Smith and volunteer Les Cushing, Bude Ladies have surpassed all expectations.
When asked to put her finger on the reason behind their success, skipper Furse is quick to respond.
“The comradery. It is an opportunity for women to use their bodies in a way they’re not encouraged or allowed to in other sports. That physical element adds to the feeling of being part of a close team and is why what we have here at Bude is so exciting.”
Beach walkers in Bude better get used to seeing training sessions by the sea because it is clear Bude Ladies are here to stay.
The Inner Warrior campaign aims to encourage more women and girls to play contact rugby, teaching key introductory skills and drills for rugby within a non-committal, social and fun environment. The next wave of Inner Warrior camps will take place in April and to discover more or register interest, please click here.