Diss Rugby Club's ladies section goes from strength to strength
When James Stanley became involved with the ladies section at Diss Rugby Club in 2016, at times just four players would attend training.
Yet, slowly but surely things have been building, to the point where recent socially distanced sessions have attracted in excess of 50 players to Mackenders.
The Vixens come together each Wednesday evening, with players from the under-13s team right through to the senior side taking part.
And while the current restrictions can make certain aspects a little tricky, director of female rugby Stanley is delighted with the progress that has been made.
“It has been growing and growing,” he said. “We are living in a time where you might think people would drop out, but that hasn’t been the case at all.
“We’ve had four new ladies come in and four or five under-18s return after taking a year out – that is really pleasing.
“Our ethos is to focus on fun and enjoyment – that’s the key. If you are not enjoying something, and you’ve had a hard day at work or school, then you are not going to make the effort to do it.
“The restrictions are a bit frustrating and it means we can only really do basic rugby skills, but the main thing is the group is able to be together.”
Going forward, Stanley is eager for the progression to continue.
The senior side have a couple of competitive matches under their belt, and with that pathway now in place, the future looks bright.
“Four years ago we’d have four people at training one week, and never more than around 10,” he added.
“We just want to keep growing. Some people thought last year we wouldn’t get a senior ladies team off the ground, but it has happened.
“We have around 30 players signed on for that team now with a wide variety of ages. Last year we had one player in the second match we played who was in her 60s, which is fantastic.
“They really are an inspiration. To begin with they weren’t keen on playing contact rugby, but in the matches they’ve played it has been full on and they have given it everything.
“We’d like to get them playing more regular matches next season, and, long term, into a league.
“That is important for our younger players because now they have somewhere to go after youth rugby.
“A lot of teenagers drop out of sport but we want to keep them involved – having a senior side helps with that.”