A NEW ladies rugby side will be hoping to work their magic on the pitch after getting a surprise visit by magician Steve Spade.
The newly formed Bruff team who had their first competitive game at the weekend, were treated to a morale-boosting visit by the illusionist along with international rugby referee, George Clancy, on Monday night.
“George took the session outside and Steve was a surprise for afterwards - none of the players knew about it,” explained Fiona Neenan, team captain.
“George went through refereeing with us. For a lot of girls who are new to it, it was great just to go through the basic rules. Steve ran though a few of his tricks. It picked up morale a little bit. We had our first match on Sunday and we lost unfortunately, we had a few injuries. It was just something different, to treat the girls after their efforts.”
Steeped in rugby history, Bruff had its first ladies team back in the early 1980s but it fizzled out according to Richard Leonard, president of Bruff RFC. “It is something we have been attempting to set up over the last couple of years. It more or less stemmed from the tag rugby side of things. The amount of girls playing tag rugby has increased phenomenally in the last few years,” he explained.
Alan Enright from Kilmallock who is secretary of the club and Katie Lynch from Athlacca got the ball rolling and asked Fiona to come on board to give them a hand. “I played for the last three or four years with Galbally. I’m from Athlacca so I was passing the pitch all the time,” she explained.
A beginners course for players with no prior experience of playing the game kicked off at the end of July and ran over six weeks giving the players an introduction to the game. “We have got some fantastic support from the Munster branch – Amanda Greensmith is the women’s development officer and she has been a great help,” said Richard. There are currently three tiers in the women’s structure - Division One, Division Two and the Development League in which the Bruff side are now competing.
“We have somewhere between 10 and 15 players over 18 and then we have another eight or 10 girls under 18. In Division One and Two you have to have 15 in order for a match to happen but in the Development League the minimum requirement is 10 so it allows a club which is setting up something new to get the numbers in,” Fiona continued.
In terms of social interaction, the benefits, Fiona says, “are fantastic”.
“There are a range of people involved from places including Bruree, Athlacca, Ballyneety and Cappamore. There are a range of ages as well, it is not predominantly just 18 year olds, there are people up into their 40s playing with us as well. “The club has been great for us. The boys have all come out to give us a hand with training sessions. It’s a great club to be associated it and we want to thank them all for their time.”