A new initiative to raise the standard of women’s rugby in Scotland has been launched.
Up to 50 players between the ages of 16 and 20 will be selected for a regional Performance Development Programme following a talent identification day at BT Murrayfield last weekend.
The players, who will be aligned to either BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh or West of Scotland in Glasgow, will receive individual programmes and attend regular training days throughout the season.
Scottish Rugby’s Head of Women’s and Girls’ Rugby, Sheila Begbie, said: “We will be selecting the best players from all four regions to be part of this new programme, which will have a positive impact on the club game as players raise standards. We envisage the national side also benefiting from the programme as young players will feed into the Scotland Women squad.
“The programme will provide players with the tools to maximise their growth and potential. They will work on individual skills and also take part in workshops on leadership and balancing rugby, education and their social lives. The squad coaches will also support players in the club environment by attending training sessions and matches to provide feedback to players in conjunction with club coaches.
“It’s a very exciting programme and will have a long-term benefit to the women’s game in Scotland.”
Players will be supported by a a coaching team in the east and west, a strength and conditioning coach, a physiotherapist and a doctor.
“It’s a very exciting programme and will have a long-term benefit to the women’s game in Scotland”
Former international Sarah Dixon, a sportscotland development officer, has been appointed programme manager. She won six caps following her debut in 2011 and also featured in Scotland Women 7s before retiring last year.
Napier University’s rugby coordinator and coach, Ian Dryburgh, has been appointed head coach of the East squad. Murrayfield Wanderers player and head coach of Napier University Women, Sarah Quick, who retired from Scotland Women ahead of this season, is the East squad’s assistant coach. Kilmarnock and Glasgow & the West BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Coach, Mark Senter, has been named Head Coach of the West squad.
The Performance Development Programme replaces Scotland Women under-20, following a review of the age-grade structure. England and France were the only other European countries with women’s under-20 teams, creating a challenge to secure meaningful games for the Scottish side.
Sheila added: “The under-20 structure wasn’t benefiting our players and the work that still needs to be done to reach high performance levels. The new programme still includes a game element, with a series of east v west matches forming part of the calendar.”