Deaf Sports Events13th April 2015

England Deaf Women's Rugby Team Secure Another Win

Playing a local league team, England's ladies run in four excellent tries.

by Sarah Lawrence

After years in the making, the development of the England Women's Deaf Rugby team is happening at a pace. Arranging a game before the international match between the England and Wales Deaf men's teams at Moseley RFC on Sunday, the women were expected to face a stiff test against a combined team from Hucclecote RFC ladies team and Cheltenham Civil Service Ladies.

Tewkesbury had been the planned opponents but they pulled out at short notice, giving the injured Gina Laquaniello a headache. "I had to make some urgent phone calls, but two teams from the same league as Tewkesbury have combined to form our opposition today," Gina told me. "It should be a stiff test."

One of the stars of the ladies team, I was disappointed to see Gina with a leg brace on her right knee. "Initially, doctors thought it was a simple twist, but turning up for training one day I asked the physio to strap it up, but he told me there was no chance, I needed a scan," Gina explained. "I just hope it's not too bad. It's the first serious injury I have had!"

In the open expanse of the Moseley RFC match and training facilities, the game was played in a strong wind that swept straight down the pitch. Standing at the top of the stand exposed to the elements, it was no surprise when the kick off failed to travel the required 10 metres to make the kick legal. England were playing with the elements in the first half, and they were able to apply early pressure from the resulting scrum on the half way line.

With just 2 minutes on the clock, and with play just in the England half, the ball was passed to Bex Francis. Seemingly faced with a good defensive line, Bex bolted for the right hand touchline, rounding the failing defence and going over for the first try of the game. 5 - 0 to England.

Hucklecote were far from beaten in these early stages and some big hits and good runs were evident from their number 17 Nikki Savory who was imposing herself menacingly on the game. Despite her efforts and midway in their own half, England secured good possession with the ball being passed to Bex Francis who puuled off an excellent wrap around move to get herself free again wide out on the right. Sprinting for the line, her pace again kep her free from the covering tackler, to score her second try of the game. 10 - 0 England.

Five minutes later, Hucklecote were to close the gap. The impressive Savory turned the ball over in the tackle, giving quick possession to their centre Catrin Garland. Replicating Bex Francis' approach she broke out wide, out-pacing the covering tackles, going over for a try in the corner. 10 - 5 England at half time.

Playing against the wind in the second half, England Deaf Ladies were to see their lead disappear within minutes of the resumption of the game. Early possession for the Hucklestone pack saw a few pick and drives, before the ball was passed out quickly to Garland who again put on the after burners, out-sprinting and rounding the defence to go over close to the posts. 10 - 10

With the scores tied, both teams fought hard to earn another break through but it was the brilliance of Bex Francis that once again provided the opening. Securing possession on the Hucklecote 22, the ball was passed along the back line to Francis who again looked to round the defence on the far right touchline. With the covering defence reaching Francis on this occasion, reward was to come to the hard working support player Sharn Watson, who take a lovely inside pass from Francis, to run in for a well worked try. 15 - 10 England.

Far from beaten, Hucklecote came fighting back with some of the biggest hits in the game following that try.  Ultimately, England were able to take an unassailable lead minutes later with the best team score of the day. A swift move across the England backline saw Francis again instrumental in making progress towards the try line. Involved in several pass and go moves, Francis put in another try scoring pass to the on-rushing Lucy Tappin, who was able to cross for England's fourth try. 20 - 10 final score.

In difficult conditions and against some excellent opposition, the England Deaf Women's Rugby team had put in a stirling performance with some superb individual performances. The 'not so good as spectating' Gina was delighted with the result of the game, commenting pleasingly that, "Training clearly makes a difference."

England Women's Team
Sophy Davies
Debbie Challenger
Alice O'Dell
Gloria Mills
Maya Elliott
Tilly Taylor
Beth Weller
Bex Francis
Kirsty Davie
Lucy Tappin
Sharn Watson
Lynsey Phillips

Still looking to develop and add to the squad, Gina had one final message for me. "If anyone is deaf or hard of hearing and is interested in playing rugby, the England Deaf Rugby Union is looking for male and female players. Please get in touch."

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

13th April 2015