Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Millwall Rugby Club's First International

Millwall Rugby Club is abuzz with the announcement of their first female member selected to play at international level. Having tried rugby at school, Leigh Dargan began training with the club's women's team, Venus during the 2008/09 season. On Wednesday she was named to play for Ireland.

“She was a sprinter when she was younger so she’s a natural athlete,” said co-coach Darryl Gera, “She’s an unstoppable talent and regularly scored multiple tries for Venus.”

Dargan moved on to play second row and number 8 for Saracens. This season she joined the new Irish Exiles team where she came to the Irish coach's attention.

“Having had two kids, it helped that both Venus coaches kept telling me I could play internationally. They’re my friends and their regular encouragement helped drive me to put in the work to get here at 30,” said Dargan. “It just shows you’re never too old to try a sport.”

Venus has welcomed many beginners, with a squad including English, Welsh, French, Dutch and Polish. “They’re a very talented squad. We’re confident at least two more of them could gain international honours but they’ll have to work hard like Leigh has,” said co-coach Andrew Bates.

Millwall Rugby Club's Venus Ladies team trains every Wednesday at 7:30pm at Mudchute Farm and plays or trains on Sundays. The Club also runs non-contact touch rugby sessions on Sundays at 3pm throughout the winter.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Tabard Game

The train trip to Tabard with the Venus girls was the best Venus trip I’ve ever been on. Can’t imagine why, but one of the coaches (let’s call him coach no. 1) wasn’t there. Coincidence? Anyways there wasn’t nearly as much rambling on the way there as on the way back.

Tabard hadn’t lost a game since 2009 and since we respect tradition we let them continue that winning streak. Rugby is a game of two halves and they won them both. However, we still stuck it to them. New recruit Jess and her chicken stealing, baby snatching dingo blaming partner Shavourne smashed them a new one several times. Hannah put on a brilliant display of how good a front row forward can be if you get all over the pitch without stopping for a breather/waddle every 2 metres (Tank and Andy Stephens take note). We also had Caroline all over the show running herself ragged and scaring the bejeezus out of people with scary faces and a big loud ‘Raaarrrr’. Celine turned up a bit late but we kitted her up with a jersey big enough for Bates and sent her out to the trenches. First tackle she gets smashed but she’s right back up and does it again. I reassure her she’ll be fine. Next tackle she gets smashed again. But kudos to her she did it again and again and kept coming back for more. Bit like that Rocky movie when he gets the bash from Mr T.

Somewhere amongst the smoke and flames and the naked streaker we spotted a gap and Sarah Davis went for it like a bat out of hell. Or maybe like Bates trying to get a seat on the dlr. Or a pie from the fridge. Anyways she pulled out all the stops and pinned her ears back and out gassed the lot of them to run in from 40 metres out. Not bad for a debut! Chris if you’re reading this, get her to teach you how to play.

We lost but the silver lining is the girls put in a stellar performance and at the end of the day rugby was the winner on the day. Full credit to the opposition for being so well organised and for lending us some of their players. Thanks to the ladies in the kitchen as well.

Cheers, Coach no. 2 (part time coach no. 1)

P.S. First girl to tell me (after the next game) how many clich├ęs I’ve used in this report gets a drink on me.

Beccs Tournament

In the beginning of September Venus traveled down to Beccehamian RFC in West Wickham for a pre season 15-a-side triangular tournament, playing matches against the Hampstead and Beccs ladies.
Venus put out a side of XV, after convincing supporter Emma Clark to make the one off switch from football to rugby and join them on the pitch. Running uphill in the first half, the team conceded an early try despite some incredible defence by new players fullback Ruth Hartley, scrumhalf Ellaine Gelman and inside centre Emma Louise Field. The team looked likely to conceded again when the hosts gained possession deep in the Venus's half from the kick-off but stirling defence and good counter-rucking saw Venus come away with the ball and march back up field. The team settled and were making good progress uphill but soon suffered 3 ankle injuries, the first a serious break to new player Andrea Bielska (flanker) and two sprains to Gelman and flanker Beth Redfern. Nevertheless, Venus held firm and prevented any further tries from the opposition.
In the second half, Venus were again firm in defence but unable to get the ball wide in attack to make use of their pacey outside backs, Michelle Ryan, Hartley and winger Delphine Blondeau. A casual attitude to ball security saw Venus pushed off the ball all too readily at breakdowns. The final score resulted in a win for hosts Becc’s, the full time result being 5-0.
After watching the Becc’s v Hampstead match, Venus returned with three borrowed Becc's players to take on Hampstead. An initial period of brilliant pick-and-go running with support players was short lived and our casual attitude to rucking returned. What little ball was won or retained barely made it out as far as centre and the wingers and fullback. Hampstead was able to score outwide and went into the break 5-0 up. Millwall's fitness and lack of substitutes told on them in the second half. Hampstead piled on try after try as the defence wilted. Final result, a win to Hampstead, 30-0.
Despite great courage on defence from some players, Venus’ backs were unable to execute the game plan of getting the ball outwide, from sideline to sideline, to make use of the fast paced backs and tire the opponents. Venus took away a lot from the matches played and are keen to work on areas necessary to be improved.
Our great thanks go to Adrian Suter for going to Farnsworth Hospital and waiting for Andrea and Ellaine to receive treatment before driving them back to the Isle.
An encouraging first game will see the team eager to play its first of eight required games to play in a league next season.

Worthing's Sevens Tournament

This summer our local ladies rugby team from Millwall Rugby Club took part in Worthing’s Sevens Tounament. It was the perfect opportunity to develop new and experienced players, put summer training into practice and of course, enjoy playing the game.
Early on Saturday morning we ventured to Worthing, so early in fact that the entire Millwall Venus team missed their 8.17am, but fortunately after much wrangling with the train inspectors we managed to get there in time to check out the competition. We started by ensuring the safety of the women by stretching and warming up well, and after the pep talks it was time to play the first match against the RLC Ladies. For many of the Venus Ladies it was their first game for Millwall, and for some it was even the first time playing rugby. Despite this, there was good communication on the field and everybody gave a 100%. Unfortunately there were some fast girls on the opposition who managed to slip away from us.
Then came the next game, which was played against a Barbarian team from Hove Rugby Club. Millwall Venus was able to put up a much better fight in this second round. Michelle Ryan made use of her speed on the wing and scored the first try of the day, however it was not enough to win the game. The team was eager to play another match, but as some teams had pulled out it seemed that this would be the end of the competition. Luckily, the Lewes Ladies felt the same way and agreed to play a friendly match. This match was Venus’ best of the day, the defence stuck together and the teams pace makers used the space well resulting in two further tries being scored by Delphine Blondeau and Andrea Beilska.
After all this hard work it was time to reward the team with some cold drinks and good food whilst watching the men’s finals in the warm sun. The team might not have won the competition but that certainly had no influence on the atmosphere as all the women were singing their hearts out the team anthem: “First I was afraid, I was petrified….”
The tournament was definitely a great learning curve for the team. A good day was had by all, and hopefully the first of many we will experience as a team throughout the forthcoming season.
We are always happy to welcome new players. Training takes place on Millwall Park 7.30pm on Wednesday evenings. Anyone requiring any further information please contact us at venus@millwallrugby.com.