A three-way tournament staged at Oundle School on Sunday demonstrated the rapidly developing skills of Wisbech Grammar School’s girls’ rugby first team.
The triangular contest involving the hosts and the Grammar School – which were both able to field two sides – and Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College kicked off with a 15-5 defeat for the Wisbech B team in a match against Oundle Bs.
Wisbech’s development squad performed impressively against a strong opposition, fighting hard in defence and only letting through three tries. Alexandra Ford made some outstanding tackles, and a break from Victoria Murphy in the dying minutes enabled the Grammar School girls to post a score on the board.
After beating Oundle, Welbeck took on the Grammar School A team – and the girls, who were apprehensive at first, quickly got into their stride. Captain Bridey de Jong-Daly led a spirited defence and there was sterling support from Nicole Rowell. However, a strong team talk at half-time failed to make the decisive difference and the opposition’s skilful players broke through for a well-deserved win.
In their second match against Oundle the Grammar School’s B team members held the opposition to a 10-10 draw, playing to the strengths they had demonstrated earlier.
The Wisbech girls started the game powerfully, with a sprint and a try from Amber Jones taking the school to a 5-0 lead. Oundle retaliated, equalising just before half-time, but injuries to Charley Brown and Heather Newport only resulted in the Grammar School girls fighting harder to keep possession.
A try from Oundle in the second half took it into the lead, but with an impressive break from Adrienne Burt the Wisbech girls succeeded in fighting back for a draw.
In a closely fought final encounter the Grammar School As went down 15-12 against Oundle’s A side. The play was evenly balanced, with both sides giving everything they had, and at half-time the scores were level at 5-5.
There was a vigorous start to the second half, with Wisbech pushing Oundle back into its half. Hettie West fought hard on the wing to make ground, but Oundle’s attack was strong and the team went into a 15-5 lead.
However, seconds before the final whistle, Nicole Rowell made an impressive break through the Oundle defence, going to ground five metres before the try line, and Victoria Murphy was at her shoulder to collect the ball and score a final try as the whistle was blown, with Nicole making the conversion to narrow the points gap.
Coach Anna Dunnet said: “All the girls played exceptionally well and should be extremely proud of their efforts. Each week they are making massive improvements, which are extremely promising as our sevens tournaments are fast approaching.
I am proud of all the effort the girls are putting in to ensure they have a successful season.”
The school’s head of rugby, Mr Alex Laybourne, said: “The girls’ under 18 teams are developing very nicely, and following some very competitive warm-up fixtures they are more prepared than ever before for a tough rugby sevens programme, including Reigate Sevens and Berkhamsted School Sevens, before they travel to the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens at the end of term.
“The hard work of coaches Miss Dunnet and Mr Claydon, alongside the commitment of all the girls, is showing its just rewards.”