17 May, 13:32
A selection of players from the Daughters of Charity in Munster recently took part in a challenge match at Garryowen Rugby Club.
Waterford City started their training last August with only two ladies from a total of 35 who had any rugby experience and a small number that had played TAG rugby. This meant that head Coach David Whelan had a mostly blank canvas to work with and had his hands full trying to create a team from complete beginners.
Fortunately for David he had great help in the first half of the season from experienced players from City’s first team. Andrew Williams, Kevin Whelan, Simon O Hara, Brian O’Neill and Antony Lavery all gave up their free time pre Christmas to assist with coaching basic rugby skills to survive an 80 minute game. Sarah Hanratty was elected captain who brought with her previous rugby experience and proved to be the best move of the season due to her hard work both on and off the pitch throughout the year.
David Whelan also coached the W.I.T. women's rugby team in the season and brought both City and W.I.T women training together. This was a great help for both teams as the girls mixed really well and ended up playing many matches together over the course of the season.
This collaboration was especially helpful to City as some of the W.I.T. students had some rugby experience and they really got the girls up to speed on the pitch when they played together in friendly matches.
When David accepted the position of W.I.T ladies coach he also received help from fellow student and Wicklow RFC scrum half Shane McDonald joined by Waterford City scrum half Daniel May.
Right from the first game David and his fellow coaches spotted some great rugby talent as the girls really took to the game. There were some massive tackles and impressive trys scored in many of the pre Christmas Games. City played Kilkenny and Enniscorthy twice coming close to their first victory in their second meeting.
Unfortunately just as the girls were really getting into the swing of things a cold spell came over the club grounds which put a stop to training for 6 weeks in total. This caused a few steps back but full training resumed in January 2011.
W.I.T. ladies enjoyed a good start to their season with a win over C.I.T. away and one at home. The student team comprised of 40% of city players which is a long term gain for the club. The girls have gained a vast amount of experience through the College league which saw them reach the semi-final only to lose out to Carlow I.T.
W.I.T. was led all year by their fantastic number 8. Elma Byrne who really dominated the forwards any time she took to the field. Elma also played many games for City and really helped establish the Waterford City Womens team.
A further achievement this year was by W.I.T player Katie Fitzhenery who won her first cap for the Leinster Ladies against Munster. Katie who plays out half for W.I.T unfortunately missed the collage semi final due to injury which was a big blow for the team.
In March Waterford City also fielded a team against St Anne’s Rugby Club, Canada who travelled over to play both the men U19s and women’s team. This again was a great occasion for the club and both teams excelled
City finished their first season strong and it was evident they had matured into a fine rugby team. From the very beginning it was evident that the girls had some great individual talent but they exceeded everybody’s expectations with the skill levels they had in their final game in Abbeyfeale.
If you are interested in playing rugby and are over the age of 17 please visit www.waterfordcityrfc.com to register an interest. Training will be starting in August 2011 and no experience is required. Playing rugby is a great way to keep in shape and meet new friends.
W.I.T's Orla O'Neill on attack supported by Katie Fitzhenery and Vicky Power
W.I.T. Women Elma Byrne , Orla O’Neill, Sharon Grant, Katie Fitzhenery, Ellen Lynagh and Sandra Murphy in action