Jones: 'Reaction to rugby session was beyond Maids' wildest dreams'

Leanne Riley

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Stephen Jones says the reaction to Maidenhead RFC’s taster rugby session for girls aged between 11-13 was ‘beyond the club’s wildest dreams’ as 32 young players took part in the event at Braywick Park on Sunday.

Girls from as many as 13 schools in the local area enjoyed games of ‘touch rugby, rugby netball, and handling exercises’ under the watchful eye and guidance of England scrum half Leanne Riley.

Maidenhead’s director of women’s and girls' rugby, Jones, revealed that the club are now in the process of forming a new girls' side, named the ‘Ice Maidens’, for those aged 13 and 14 years old.

“It was staggering,” said Jones.

“We had no idea how many people were going to come. In the end, we probably had 32 girls down. It was beyond our wildest dreams.

“There were some real talented individuals, some who have played a little before, and some who haven’t played at all.

“The upshot is that next season we are going to launch a new u13/u14 girls team at Maidenhead called the ‘Ice Maidens’

“The appetite the girls had at the weekend was incredible. It takes real courage to come down and play but they were all wonderful.

“We started the day off with handling games and crazy games like throwing the ball behind the back of your head for someone to catch.

“Then, we went on to what we call ‘rugby netball’ which is standard rugby but you can also pass it forward. Finally, we played some touch, and we did that with smaller teams so everyone had the opportunity to score a try.

“The feedback we’ve had from parents has been incredible. We were just doing it as an introduction to the sport and we were going to leave it for a couple of months to do another day like it.

“But, we’re seriously thinking we’ve got to get everyone back together sooner rather than later because the parents and the kids have just reacted so well to it.

“We’re really grateful for the Advertiser’s article because it definitely gave us the big launch.”

On Leanne’s contribution to the day, Jones added: “She came down in her England kit and it was just absolutely marvellous for the girls.

“I don’t think anyone could believe she was there really.

“She was modest, kind, and gave all of the time in the world to the kids.

“The day before, she played for Harlequins in the semi-final of the Premier 15s.

“They beat Wasps and this Sunday they will play Saracens in the final. I’m sure all of the girls will be supporting her this weekend.”

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