The Shelford RFC women’s section was formed in the same season as the first women’s World Cup, dating back to just over 30 years ago. It was only last year that the club president and a board member got into a discussion with one of the women’s players about the long history of women’s rugby at the club, and agreed it was a shame that they didn’t have something to celebrate it. In addition, they both agreed that the club should have a women’s captains board and that’s when they decided to put one together. The timing fit well with the recent World Cup and the plan was to reveal the board after their last game before Christmas, but unfortunately it was cancelled. Instead, they had to wait patiently for last weekend to come along, as the board was revealed before a tight but successful home fixture against the local rivals Bury St Edmunds. The board joined the already existing men’s captain board, which is a huge achievement worth celebrating!
The current women’s captain, Charlotte Gisbourne, played a big role in getting the new captain board up at the club. “It means a huge amount that it’s up. I’ve captained a few teams over the years, and I honestly don’t think I ever expected to see my name up on the wall like the men do,” she comments.
Gisbourne also claims that the new captain’s board is a marker of how far they have come as a team and how far women’s rugby has come in general. “It’s an amazing thing to be able to look at the list of names of the women who came before us, and who fought so hard for us to be able to play the sport we all love and to be as supported and included as we are.”
The Shelford RFC Women’s success does not end there, however. The team has been on an amazing journey over the last few seasons and has seen several historic moments worth celebrating. Gisbourne joined the club back in 2019 and at the time, they only had one successful women’s team in the club. The women’s section has always been supported well by the club but they didn’t have a huge number of players. However, they kept on working hard to keep the team together and make it grow despite covid. It was off the back of that, they could finally form a second team — the Shelford Nomads. The Nomads have stacked up some impressive results this season and remain unbeaten so far in the National Challenge 3 Midlands (South) league! In addition, the 1st team had a very successful season last year and reached a milestone as they gained promotion to the Championship 2 league. During the same season, they also had 6 of their own players in the Eastern Counties team that won the Division 2 Cup final at Twickenham in June.
Furthermore, the club also works hard to grow girls’ rugby. In addition to having their own girls’ section, they are also running an initiative called ‘Project 11’, which is an after-school club for girls in year 4-6 to introduce them to rugby.
Their hard work and ambition helps grow the game and we’re glad that they are also getting lots of success from it. They are role models for other teams and players, helping push the game forward.