In the run-up to Varsity DSU’s women’s rugby team have given themselves the best chance of success in many years, according to the club’s secretary.
Despite being underdogs for the clash, Tanya Stirk believes that they are in with a good chance of winning in 2016 given the way the team have improved and the work they’ve put in both on and off the pitch.
“We hope this year’s the year. We’ve got a good team,” she said.
“The freshers that joined at the beginning, we had high hopes for them and they’re exceeding them. They’re awesome; they’ve enhanced the team so much.”
“For example we won a friendly against a team that had beaten us in BUCS; they beat us before Christmas and we beat them after, which shows we’re improving.
“The gym’s paying off and training, too.”
Training has been playing an integral part of the side’s preparations for Varsity, and the players have found that there is no hiding place for those who haven’t been putting the work in at the gym.
“We were having one training session per week and relying on people to go to the gym themselves but it kind of wasn’t happening, so we pushed it to two training sessions,” explained Tanya.
“We also have a social media page and people post on there as proof they’ve been to the gym.”
With their fixture taking place at Welford Road, in front of thousands of students, Tanya said that it can, at first, be a nervous experience, but once out on the field you can try to block out the sound of the crowd.
Tanya, a second year Criminology and Criminal Justice student, said: “It’s really nice this year because we know what to expect. We went out last year absolutely dreading it – well I did anyway – dreading the thought of thousands of people watching.
“And actually, you zone out. You forget the crowd’s there, and in first year that’s what you dread.
“The freshers are thinking, ‘oh my God’, but I keep telling them that you don’t know they’re there, you just ignore them.”
Varsity gives squad members’ families the ideal chance to watch them, and last year, Tanya’s daughter was able to watch her play. She is looking forward to her family watching again this year, as are most of the squad, and she said that this is one of their favourite things about the event.
“For a lot of the girls, their family’s live quite far away. Because it’s a big even their family’s come and watch and they’re really happy they’re there.”
Mel Hawes, media officer for the club, is a second year Journalism student and said her favourite thing about Varsity is how it brings people together; whether it be as a squad or as a university, with all #TeamDMU sides pulling together for a common cause.
She said: “We all come together, that’s the main thing.”
Tanya was in agreement, adding: “At Varsity we become one team. It is DMU vs Leicester.”
And after almost 15 years without a win in the fixture, it would be a mammoth achievement if the girls were to win, but how would they react?
“We would fall in a heap crying. We work all year for Varsity - every match is a training session for it,” said Tanya.
Mel added: “At the start of the year it was ‘Varsity, Varsity, Varsity’.”
The women’s rugby game at Welford Road is on Wednesday 11 May and kicks off at 6:15pm. Click here for the full list of Varsity fixtures and get behind #TeamDMU.