Maidenhead RFC are set to launch their new u13s/14s girls’ side next week, and have brought in a coach who, like ‘the Pied Piper’, can lead them along the pathway towards senior rugby.
For many years, girls haven’t been able to play rugby at Maidenhead beyond the age of 12, when they’re no longer allowed to play alongside boys. However, the introduction of a new team – the Ice Maidens – will offer them a chance to continue with the sport, and director of women’s rugby, Stephen Jones, hopes to establish an under 17s team once the younger age group side is up and running.
He also believes they’ve found the perfect coach to develop the girls’ game in Wasps Ladies forward Maud Muir.
The 20-year-old currently plays in the Premier 15s with Wasps and was selected by England as a travelling reserve for last season’s Six Nations. Jones believes she’s one of the most promising young players in the country and someone the club’s girls will respond well to when she starts coaching weekly sessions from Sunday, September 19 (11am start).
“She’s young at 20, but she is a phenomenal player,” said Jones. “Probably one of the best young players in England. Last year she was a travelling reserve for the Six Nations, which for a front row forward at 20, is unbelievable.
“So, she’s a fantastic player, but she’s also coached various teams before on an ad-hoc basis and enjoys it.
“She’ll be coaching girls aged 12-14 and because we’ve got such a huge interest in it, and the creation of a new team, we almost need someone to be like a Pied Piper figure. Someone who knows their rugby but also someone the girls will respond well to.”
The club held a successful u13s/14s taster session at the end of last season which more than 30 girls took part in. They played touch rugby and other games under the watchful eye of England scrum half Leanne Riley, and Jones says he was staggered by the level of interest in the side. Having had a taster Jones hopes many of those players will be back at Braywick for the first training session on Sunday week, to be coached and inspired by someone, not much older than they are, who’s made it in the professional game.
“We’ve got a lot of people who want to give rugby a try or improve their rugby skills and we believe Maud will be perfect for it,” he said.
“Maud will take sessions every week that she can. There may be some weeks, say if she gets in the Six Nations squad, where she might be away, but when she’s not there the club will provide a back-up coach so it will be a weekly thing. We hope that in a fairly short period of time girls will start playing touch rugby and then move through to contact under Maud.
“For the players to see that there’s someone only five or six years older than they are, who is on the fringes of the England team and playing in the Premier 15s, it’s just inspirational.
“Boys and girls can play together up to the age of 12 only. But now there’s a pathway for girls to continue playing into their teens and Maud is evidence that you can possibly play it at a professional level as well. There’s a lot of positive aspects to this.”