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Home > News > Hockey girls warm to Kendal O2 Touch challenge
Your News Hockey girls warm to Kendal O2 Touch challenge

POSITIVE discrimination in favour of rugby fledglings produced an action-packed finale to the South Lakes O2 Tough Rugby programme at Kendal RFC on Saturday (July 16), when a team of women’s hockey players took the honours.

What was effectively ‘tries for triers’ has been an innovative handicapping technique in operation over recent weeks at Mint Bridge to broaden the appeal of the non-contact version of the 15-a-side game and level the playing field for novice participants. Individual newcomers to rugby in each team received a one-try bonus, a mechanism that worked out well throughout the eight-week programme.

It also proved to be the perfect catalyst for a thrilling finale on Saturday when the Hockey Girls beat a Kendal Colts side 11-10 in a pulsating climax to an otherwise very soggy afternoon.

“The weather had a depressing effect on the turnout, but the decision to make it a fancy dress affair lifted the mood and brought some real colour to proceedings.” said Garry Holmes, O2 Touch organiser and Community Rugby Coach for the South Lakes.

“The girls did really well and expressed an interest in trying out rugby proper at some stage in the future. We have a women’s team at Carlisle RFC at the moment and we may be calling on them for a bit of help if the hockey girls follow up their initial interest.

“Whether the O2 Touch delivers more players into the game and the club remains to be seen, but we certainly had plenty of interest and a handful of fresh faces involved. Many were from the younger end and it was amongst that section of the club that we uncovered the greatest enthusiasm for the touch series.

“The Wednesday evening sessions have attracted over 70 different people during the eight-week period they have been running, with an average of 35 people attending each night.”

The players have ranged from players with 20 years experience to players who are experiencing rugby for the first time at a club and as a simple device for producing a level playing field, newcomers to the game are credited with a try each time they play as a basic handicapping system which gives novices a chance against the more experienced practitioners.

“We’ve been running a pitch-up-and-play format where players are randomly spilt into teams on arrival and play three 20 minute games.” said CRC Holmes: “We’ve tried to encourage existing players and members to bring friends along and we’ve certainly had a few new faces turning up, which is great.

“Now the club is resuming full training for a new season so the fancy dress finale was the last competition, but everyone has been extremely positive about the O2 Touch project and very keen to run it again next year. The fancy dress finale was very well received and that is sure to be a key part of our plans for next year.

“As for the handicapping system, I’m sure we’ll get the hockey girls back if that is still in place and obviously we need the champions back to defend!”

In addition to Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale RFC have also been busy with the O2 Touch rugby initiative. Around 47 people have been involved over a seven-week programme, with an average attendance of around 30 people per night. The programme will be running through to September and as with the Kendal project, anyone wishing to take part is very welcome to join in the fun.

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