Ripon Bluebells & Malton Ladies
By Jay Chester-Bristow
THIS is what Rugby is all about.
The first match of the season is always one that is viewed with mixed emotions. Some nerves, some excitement but you still get out there and give it your best. Today was no exception for the Bluebelles as they got ready to take Malton Ladies on for their first home game this year.
The Malton team arrived and only had 8 players, after chatting to them we discovered that they were quite inexperienced and looking to develop. Faced with a decision the management and coaching team had a chat and decided that playing against them wouldn't be the most constructive move. So we decided to play WITH them instead. Yes, this match was meant to be part of the merit league but we decided to put that aside and use the day constructively, we chatted to the Malton players about what positions they were most suited to and split the Bluebelles into 2 teams with the Malton ladies so that we had equal sides.
After a couple of false starts with a couple of the Bluebelles forgetting which side they were on, they settled into a brilliant game. Every player on the park gave their all and played to their full ability. There was no pulling of punches against their own team mates from either team and it was a joy to watch. Massively assisted by the referee, Mark Rees, who took the time to explain things and gave the players time to get settled into the scrums and line outs so that they all benefitted from the experience.
The Malton Ladies played very well considering they were thrown into the deep end and the Bluebelles made us very proud.
From the start the continuing improvement by the Bluebelles as a team was very clear. Holly Thompson and Clare Collins executed some good hard forward runs with Emma Green demonstrating an improved awareness of support play. Several players seemed to have a new found confidence, Sarah Wintersladen, after all her hard work last season seemed to pull it all together today, her speed, elusiveness and accuracy in passing was on point. So many of the players demonstrated a broader understanding of their position and role in the team, a couple even doing very well out of their normal comfort zones. Caryl Ann Davies, playing in the backs for a change, opened her stride and tested Lindsey Hollings speed and stamina, both ladies gave as good as they got.
The more experienced players, Jess Lane, Emily Santry and Claire Taylor ensuring that the Malton Ladies were equally involved, yet still pulling out all the stops in their own performances. I could happily name every single player of the team with an anecdote about their game but this week a special mention goes to the ever present Liz Clark going about her usual business, which is often missed by most, but is an essential part of the team structure. Tries were fast and furious, several players losing their 'try virginity' and the opportunity to attempt conversions was grabbed by players from both sides. The tackling was consistent and technically extremely good, the passing on the whole was accurate and thought out. We know the score from the match but to be honest it's irrelevant. Every player on the park should be extremely proud of themselves. To coin a rugby cliché. Rugby was definitely the winner today.
Player of the match went deservedly to Clare Collins for an outstanding effort throughout the whole game and for her first ever try!