Myerscough College in Lancashire hosted 40 young female stars along with players and coaches from Sale Sharks Women
The five-day summer residential provides a pathway into Premier 15s side’s academy setup
The biggest girls’ rugby camp in the North West took place at Myerscough College as Sale Sharks hosted their summer residential.
Youngsters aged 12-18 descended on the Lancashire boarding school for five days of coaching and fun under some of Sale Sharks’ top-flight coaches and female players.
The residential acts as a pathway into Sale Sharks Womens’ Centre of Excellence – equivalent to the Junior Academy on the men’s side of the club – and has nurtured talents like first team scrum-half Willow Bell.
The players and staff stayed on the boarding school grounds for the duration of the stay in an intensive rugby experience seeking to mirror that of a professional player.
Sale Sharks Women’s defence coach is former Welsh captain and Barbarians Coach Rachel Taylor.
Rachel, 39, said: “Experiences like these are incredibly valuable for young female players who don’t have the same opportunities as boys their age. Established girls’ teams are just rarer.
“From the girls’ perspectives, it’s a fantastic chance to get to grips with some higher-level rugby thinking, and to meet women who have competed at the highest levels.
“Obviously I’m Welsh, but you can’t ignore the attitude shift that we’ve seen in this country after the Lionesses winning the European Championship. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that one of these girls couldn’t be representing their country in years to come. We have a duty as a club to facilitate that, and as a coach, I would love to see some of these girls coming through into our squad down the line.”
Willow, 20, said: “The residential really helped develop my confidence as a young player. The skills and coaching are one thing, but also just talking to the Sharks players and coaches makes you realise that there is actually another level you can take your game to. It did make me believe in myself that I could aim for the Premier 15s – and beyond.
“You can’t apply the skills you learn to play against the best unless you believe you can in the first place.”