12/03/14 by Paul Bolton
|THE RFU Women’s Junior Divisional Programme for 2014 kicks off on Sunday March 16 at Under 18 and Under 15 levels.The Divisional Programme started in 2010 and is crucial in developing talent to improve rugby at all levels of the women’s and girls’ player pathway, with the objective of producing future England internationals at XVs and Sevens.Played across two age groups in England’s four divisions – North, Midlands, London & South East and South West – the programme provides a challenging, high quality, performance environment within each division.
This enables the individual development of players who have the potential, ambition and commitment to become the best they can be.
There are three rounds of matches between now and the conclusion of the programme in late April, and all are taking place in a central venue at Birmingham Exiles RFC’s new ground at Elmdon close to Birmingham International Airport. This will involve over 200 players at the same venue, which will not only increase the overall image of the programme, but will help to highlight the importance of the divisional programme within the player pathway.
The standard of the players being selected into the divisional squads has increased again this year through having more joined-up training weekends.
This has meant a greater focus on position-specific development and small unit skill work, rather than purely team preparation.
The delivery of the Divisional Programme is overseen nationally by the RFU Player Development Manager and divisionally by RFU Divisional Talent Development Officers (DTDOs).
Andy Paton, RFU Player Development Manager said: “The key focus this year across all of our pathway programmes has been to maximise the amount of training and contact time that the players receive and this has resulted in increased training sessions while on training camps and more master classes with the DTDOs
“The centralised matches at Birmingham Exiles provide the players with an opportunity to test themselves against other players from within the programme and to have the chance to push their claims for further involvement in programmes within the player pathway such as the National Talent Development Group at U15 and U18.
“Having the matches at a central venue will also allow the DTDOs to be present to assess players and select for future the programmes at both 15s and 7s.”
Players who have graduated from the Divisional Programme through to the England Elite Player Squads, XVs and 7s, include Leanne Reilly, Amber Reed, Hannah Gallagher, Amy Wilson-Hardy, Emily Scott, and Meg Goddard.
Midlands Under 18s:
Ellen Dewson (East Midlands), Becky Noon (Staffordshire), Megan Willoughby (North Midlands), Philippa Theobold-Roe (East Midlands), Alex Watson (Leicestershire), Georgia Bradley (Staffordshire), Anna Chadburn (Staffordshire), Evie Probert (East Midlands), Kaite Boot (Staffordshire), Martha Farnworth (North Midlands), Ella Halcrow (East Midlands), Jade Shekells (North Midlands), Emily Davis (Staffordshire), Analisa Hinson (NLD), Hetty Swann (North Midlands).
Midlands Under 15s:
Holly Felton (Ashfield and NLD), Chloe Andrews (Lichfield and Staffordshire), Lauren Rigby (Lichfield and Staffordshire), Rhoda Woller (Wellingborough Town/ East Midlands), George Watson (Market Harborough and Leicestershire), Laura Thomas (Worcester and North Midlands), Rebecca Herring (Old Northamptonians and East Midlands), Tess Heath (New Pavs and NLD), Lottie Bozon (Lichfield and Staffordshire), Cara Clarke (Worcester and North Midlands), Beth Taylor (Old Northamptonians and East Midlands), Amy Hewitt (Wellingborough Town/ East Midlands), Meg Varley (Lichfield and Staffordshire).
RFU Women’s Junior Divisional Programme 2014: