De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s women’s rugby players bounced back from the disappointment of last season to enjoy a successful year – but there’s still work to do.
The club failed to register a win in 2014/15, but this season picked up some significant victories on their way to a respectful fifth place finish in their BUCS division.
Mel Hawes, the club’s media officer, said: “Last year we didn’t win any games and lost them all by a significant margin. We had a bit of trouble coaching so that played its part.
“We started to gel a bit more in the last weeks of the season but at that point we had no BUCS matches, just Varsity, so it was a bit too soon to really improve.
“This year we’ve improved a lot more. We’ve got solid coaches who come every week and we’ve won a few games.
“It took us a while, but we were only losing by small margins, they were getting smaller.”
The team’s season turned around with a double-header against Coventry. After losing out in the first leg – a league game – the squad came together for the following friendly and righted the wrongs from the previous match.
Mel continued: “Then we played Warwick the next week in the league and won that, too. We’ve improved so much and have been getting some really good wins.”
The club not only started to take victories, but secured them by considerable winning margins. The highlight of their year was a 34-0 demolition of the University of East Anglia.
Playing a significant part in their progress was their coaching team, Alan Whyman and Jenny Renton from Coalville Rugby Club, who Mel was quick to pay tribute to.
She said: “The coaches have made a big difference. They’ve got so much knowledge and they’ve helped us so much.”
The new intake of players also played a significant part in their success this year with an enthusiastic influx combining well with the returning squad members to create one well-drilled unit.
Mel said: “Last year we used to say rugby was like a family, and I didn’t really get what everyone meant, but this year we’ve improved so much and have all gelled together.
“As a group we’ve got a lot closer.”
Looking ahead to next season, Mel said that the club is striving to finish at the top of the league table.
“Next year we want to finish in the top three of our league and win as many games as we can,” she said. “We also want to increase our intake.
“This year we’ve had a lot of Freshers, but it’s keeping hold of them that’s the problem. This year we want to get as many as possible and keep hold of them.
“We want to get everyone really confident in one solid position so they’re happy to play there every match. And everyone wants to win Varsity, don’t they!”
Speaking of Varsity, after a deluge of rain rendered the pitch at Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road ground unplayable, many of the team were left disappointed, Mel said.
She added: “It was difficult that it was cancelled. There were tears from some people!
“We built it up for that day and had our whole day planned around Varsity. It was just a disappointment.
“We had to carry on for another couple of weeks training when we’d usually finish, but, on the other hand, it meant we stayed together much longer than we usually would.”
Despite the set-back of the cancellation, the side get another crack at Varsity glory and Mel is confident of causing an upset.
She said: “We’ve seen our improvement and the results we’ve been getting. It boosts your confidence and the more confident you are in a match the better you feel you’re going to do.
“We’re just so excited and can’t wait to get back on the pitch.
The clash – along with the men’s first team match – has been rescheduled at Welford Road, the home of Leicester Tigers, for Wednesday 11 May. For more details, click here.
To find out more about sport at DSU, click here.