A new starters guide to rugby with the Upper Eden Eagles
Introducing Joanna, Bella and Lucy from the Upper Eden Eagles Rugby Team who have shared their guide to starting women’s rugby in Kirkby Stephen.
The Upper Eden Eagles were established in July 2018. We initially joined forces with the Windermere Warriors and played our first season with them in the North West Merit League, which we won! This season we’ll be joining the Merit League as an Independent team. The Merit League is designed for ‘development teams’ which means all the players are all inexperienced.
Like many women’s teams, ours is diverse, with women and girls of all abilities, aged between 18 and 45. The one thing we all have in common is being relatively new to the sport!
Here’s how we would describe our team in three words:
Joanna: “Fun, friendly, dedicated.”
Bella: “Hardworking, motivated and funny.”
Lucy: “Fun, passionate and hardworking.”
What is the best thing about playing rugby/being part of the Eagles?
Joanna: “Challenges, friendships and support from teammates. Watching players develop every week. Improved fitness and self confidence and an enhanced social life.”
Bella: “Met loads of lovely girls, and gained many friends for life. Everyone is so supportive of each other. Since starting, I feel fitter and motivated. The girls push you to do your best! It’s the best thing I ever did.”
Lucy: “I have met loads of new friends, improved my fitness and I also like watching others improve week by week!”
What advice would you give to new starters?
First of all, you don’t need any experience, any particular level of fitness or any kit. You just need to turn up with a positive attitude and we can help you with the rest! Rugby is a genuinely diverse game and we need people of all shapes and sizes!
We’ll teach you all the different techniques and elements of the game and help you get to know the rules. We can’t guarantee you won’t pick up a bruise or two but we’ll make sure you find a position you feel comfortable playing in.
For training, all you need to wear is clothing you’d go running in, i.e. gym leggings and a hoodie or jumper if cold. If we’re training on the pitch, you’ll need a pair of boots with studs (rugby or football boots) but if you don’t already have any, that’s not a problem. Let us know and we will find you some that you can borrow while you give it a go and see if it’s for you.
On game days, team shirts are provided. You’ll just need to bring your own shorts, boots and socks. Some of the girls choose to wear a mouth shield or head guard, but this is not essential.
Like any team, we ask our players for commitment and dedication, but you don’t need to be able to commit to every game or every training session!
Joanna said: “Everybody is welcome no matter shape, size or ability. Don’t be worried if you don’t know the rules we will teach you. Come join us and find your inner warrior, Improve your self confidence, make friends and have fun.”
Bella said: “Definitely a sport which everyone should have a go at. We all started as beginners! “
Lucy said: “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played rugby or any competitive sport before, we’re all learning and the players and coaches will be there to talk you through it. You won’t know what you’re capable of until you give it a go and you’ll probably surprise yourself!”.
How much will playing rugby cost me?
It costs nothing to sign up with the RFU as a player and anyone is welcome to come down to our training sessions and give rugby a go free of charge.
If you decide it’s for you, you’ll be asked to pay a membership to the club which is currently just £30 per year (membership fees will vary from club to club). On game days, players will also be asked to pay an additional ‘sub’ (or subscription) of £5.
This money contributes to some of the club’s running costs and helps towards the essential kit and equipment that we can’t do without.
Basic rugby kit (boots, shorts and socks) can be purchased relatively cheaply online or borrowed from friends and family.
Training kit branded with the team logo can be purchased through the club, although this isn’t essential.
When is training / playing?
The rugby season runs from September to May, with pre-season training starting in July, but you can you can join at any time throughout the year.
During rugby season and in pre-season, the Eagles train at Upper Eden Rugby Club in Kirkby Stephen on Wednesday nights between 7pm and 8.30pm.
We don’t play every weekend, but when we do, our games are generally played on Sundays with kick-off being at 2pm and we currently play teams right across the North West.
We have a wide catchment area and players come from Penrith, Kendal, North Yorkshire and even West Cumbria, so there are usually opportunities to lift share!
Can I play elsewhere in Cumbria?
There are more and more women’s rugby teams popping up across Cumbria and the surrounding area which is brilliant for the game and gives us more opportunities to play competitively.
If you can’t make it to Kirkby Stephen you can find your nearest Women’s team by visiting www.englandrugby.com/my-rugby/find-rugby.
Sum up rugby in three words.
Joanna: “Discipline. Respect. Teamwork.”
Bella: “Exciting, fulfilling and powerful.”
Lucy: “Respect. Teamwork. Alcohol.”
How can I get involved?
We love meeting new people and are always on the lookout for more players!
The club will be running a number of fitness and recruitment events throughout the year, which anyone is welcome to attend. These are a great opportunity to meet the team and have some fun!
You are also very welcome to come down to any of our weekly training sessions. Again, these take place on Wednesday evenings, 7pm at Upper Eden Rugby Club.