Shetland Ladies Rugby Team Needs You!

Following public demand, after a break of several years, the ladies team is in the process of getting started up again. Our first training session is at the Clickimin rugby pitch on Thursday the 6th of September at 6.30pm and it will take the form of a fun, informal Come and Try Session.
Everyone is welcome and even if you want to just watch the first time, we think you will soon be on the pitch and joining in! The men's team train at the same time and to begin with then the women will join in with the men during their warm up and for a few simple drills. This is to support the women and to ensure they have 'experts' to look to for form and skill-building. The ladies will then work on their own with a few coaches to learn the basics of rugby - the skills and the very basic rules. Nothing too complicated but enought to whet your appetite!
If anyone is worried about tackling or the 'contact' aspect of the game, then rest assured that this will be introduced slowly and safely and you will only be in contact situations with other women (though usually just with tackle bags and pads!)
Rugby by it's nature is a sport which is suitable for everyone and in which a position in the team can be found for everyone, so while experience and fitness would be an advantage to begin with, a lack of either of these should certainly not put you off. Some of the drills can be quite tiring, but everyone is encouraged to take a break or drink of water whenever they need/want to, and to be honest, half the time you are having so much fun and concentrating so much on what you are doing, it is only when you stop that you realise how hard you have been working!
Both the sport of rugby and the atmosphere surrounding it is extremely friendly and Shetland Rugby Club is no exception, The coaches are patient and make learning fun, and everyone is very supportive.
The future and the development of the ladies team will very much rest with the women who make up the team. And if you come to training, you are in the team - no one will be left on the sidelines/bench! Our initial goal is just to get like-minded women together to learn about and enjoy playing rugby. If those women (or even just a few of those women) want to work towards playing some competitive friendly matches, then the club will support this. If it turns out that everyone just wants to play for fun and to improve their fitness (and to partake in the wonderful social side of rugby!) then that will be the focus of the team and SRFC will also support this. We are anticipating that it will be a mixture of the two.
If you are at all interested then please come along to a Thursday night session (don't worry if you have missed the first one - new faces are ALWAYS welcome) or get in contact. At the moment we plan to train on Thursday nights, simply because that fits in with the men, but the men also train on Tuesdays so that may be an option in the future - as could other nights if the demand is there. During rugby season then coming to watch and support the men at their home games is another excellent way to experience firsthand the friendliness of the club and sport and to ask any questions.
The SRFC Facebook page is constantly updated and is well used by club members and you can of course contact a team member. Kerry Geddes can be contacted on 07833 732 598 or by email on Kerry Geddes.


Shetland Ladies win (again)

The Shetland ladies kept up their run of success by winning the (ladies part of) the May 2006 Orkney Sevens.
They beat Orkney and Leith to take the Quaich home.
A full report can be found in the Shetland News here.
Interesting article from the Shetland Times here


Ladies Rugby in Shetland celebrated their 1st anniversary by embarking on their greatest challenge yet and travelled to Norway to play X's and XII's against Bergen Ladies Team in the Fana Stadium.
It was in September 1999 that the Shetland Men first made contact but each season a men's tour to Bergen has been thwarted. The women however had more luck and managed to get a trip organised in 6 months.
The Bergen Ladies team has been established for a few years and has a number of experienced players who represent Norway in European tournaments. They actually had only just returned from playing the weekend before in Prague.

First International Match Report:

At the beginning of the first game Bergen dominated, moving the ball very well with only good Shetland defending cover preventing Bergen scoring earlier, however after a sustained period of possession Bergen's left winger, Kjersti Garfors, cleared Shetland's defence to go over at the corner and score under the posts, creating an easy conversion, which was successfully kicked by Siri Ellingsund.
The Shetland Team responded quickly to put Bergen under pressure & good work from Sarah Kay & Lesley Mouat created space for Kerry Hooker, who breaking through two tackles scored under the posts. The successful conversion by Lesley Mouat equalled the scores at halftime, 7-7.
The second half saw Shetland burst through Bergen's defensive line to score early, from half-way Emily Tait received the ball and cutting inside the first defender & side stepping another sprinted to score Shetland's second try. The third try was an excellent team effort from the kick-off, with Martha McGowan & Estelle Smith keeping the ball alive during contact to make ground before Linda Mills drove across the line to score.
In the final minutes Bergen moved the ball wide for Tove Reksten to score. The conversion was missed creating a final score Shetland 17 - Bergen 12.
There was then some spare time to relax and watch the Bergen Rugby Klubb's men play Stravanger Rugby Klubb in a league XV's match, which Bergen won comfortably 48-6.

Second International Match Report:

To make it well worth all the ladies efforts to travel to Norway it was decide to play 12 a-side in the second game instead of having substitutes sitting watching on the side-lines, however this made it harder for Shetland to play to their strengths.
The second game showed how Bergen was the more experience team, adapting to the Shetland style of play to form a stronger defence & scrum, starving Shetland of possession & chances to attack. The best opportunity for Shetland was when Sarah Kay broke through Bergen's defence, but unfortunately was judged to have been in touch.
The game however was not easy for Bergen & they only managed to score two tries the entire time by Kjersti Garfors & Camilla Otterlei. The second try was the best when excellent handling from nearly every member enabled them to cross from right to left wing & back to right, spreading a gap in Shetland's line for them to score. Final score Shetland 0 - Bergen 10.
Shetland team was Fiona McKay, Heather Miller, Martha McGowan, Roberta Wilson, Linda Mills, Estelle Smith, Sian Thompson, Mel Inkster (captain), Lesley Mouat (vice captain), Kerry Hooker, Sarah Kay & Emily Tait.
That evening Bergen hosted a dinner with presentation in the Scotsman Bar in the centre of Bergen.
Kerry Hooker was voted player for Shetland and Elizabeth Berentzen for Bergen.
Roberta Wilson, who had surprised the Shetland Ladies by turning up unexpectedly from London to take part, won the Willie Wilson Knock-on Award, for her failed attempt to catch the ball from kick-off. This was extremely amusing considering the award was established for her brother Willie Wilson who lives in Bergen and competes with the local team, guess it must be a genetic fault!
Stravanger's captain also entered into the spirit of the evening and honoured Linda Mills because she had played for the same team as he had when in Australia - Cottesloe in Perth.
Shetland Ladies would like to thank Bergen for their hospitality, Elaine Asbjornson and family for supporting at the stadium, coach Wayne for persevering with us and Nick Cunningham for being a dedicated Supporter, travelling all the way to supply us with water bottles! Special mention of thanks to the Norr�na and First Hotel Marin for transportation and accommodation for the trip.


Shetland 62 - Orkney 0 (Sunday 20th June 2004) 7s & Xs
Shetland 30 - Orkney 14 (Saturday 28th August 2004) XVs
Shetland 10 - Lossiemouth 12 (Saturday 26th March 2005) Xs
Shetland 5 - RAF Saxa Vord 65 (Saturday 23rd April 2005) 7s Touch
Shetland 17 - Bergen 12 (Saturday 21st May 2005) X's
Shetland 0 - Bergen 10 (Saturday 21st May 2005) XII's


Shetland Ladies Rugby Club was formed in May 2004 in order to field a team against their Orkney counterparts in the 2004 Shetland Mid-Summer Seven's. We are pleased to report that the ladies rose to the challenge & beat Orkney 62 - 0. A second inter-county match was held in Orkney on 28th August and despite camping the night before, Shetland secured a second victory with a score of 30 - 14 for our first full XV's game.
We had a quiet winter with training held every Sunday in the TA hall. Things picked up a bit at the end of March when we joined the senior men's team on their trip to RAF Lossiemouth. The Ladies were able to have half a game of Xs before the men's fixture. It was good to play again, though we had to play against some of our own players to make up numbers for the Lossiemouth side. The teams scored tries tit for tat but unfortunately Shetland Ladies weakness at kicking conversions made the difference with a loss of 10 - 12.
On 23rd April 2005 seven ladies and three men travelled north to Unst to compete against the RAF Saxa Vord Men's 7s team. We played 7s touch rugby on the Astroturf providing experience in game play and an opportunity to gently break in the rugby virgins in our team. Everyone really enjoyed the day even though the final score was a loss 5 - 65. Plans to hold a similar event after the Mid-Summer 7's are already being discussed.
Shetland Rugby Club provide stewards for the Shetland Folk Festival and this year the ladies team provided five volunteers. It was a different and enjoyable experience. Many thanks to all those partaking in the Folk Festival for being so well behaved and agreeable even at 5am!
Congratulation Ladies on a successful fundraising day. Many thanks to everyone at the Co-op Supermarket for being generous throughout our bag-packing extravaganza on the 7th May, and to all those who donated in the Lerwick pubs later that night. Special thank you for Kerry Hooker for given up most of her birthday to pack other people's shopping!


Rugby is a game that is growing in popularity in Shetland with men, ladies & juniors all working together. As SRFC president Forbes Hogg said "We are turning into the largest & greatest sporting organisation in Shetland."
The thing I particularly like about rugby is that anyone can join in regardless of height, size, ability or age. Both the ladies and men's team have players in their' 40s (anyone under 16 should join the junior rugby). There are so many options in the team. The Ladies team is especially open to new players with more opportunities for games than players to attend them. Coach Wayne Leslie said training is of a light nature and therefore perfect for those who have never played before.
Virtually all the ladies had never touched a rugby ball before May 2004. For a better idea of how scared and inexperienced one of our players was before her first game, read Kerry Hooker's article, which was published in Shetland Life magazine, here. Since this was written she has played in every game and is so hooked on the sport she has even joined the SRFC committee.The photos on this page were taken during and after our 62-0 victory against Orkney. You can read the match report here and see pictures here of the whole Mid-Summer Sevens weekend here.

Personally I would say

"The fear of starting is your greatest challenge!"

If you are interested in coming to training or would like some more details then you can contact one of the following people:

Results: Shetland 62 - Orkney 0 (Sunday 20th June 2004) 7s & Xs Shetland 30 - Orkney 14 (Saturday 28th August 2004) XVs Shetland 10 - Lossiemouth 12 (Saturday 26th March 2005) Xs Shetland 5 - RAF Saxa Vord 65 (Saturday 23rd April 2005) 7s Touch Shetland 17 - Bergen 12 (Saturday 21st May 2005) X's Shetland 0 - Bergen 10 (Saturday 21st May 2005) XII's

It's photograph time!
A selection of photographs from the life of the Shetland Ladies Rugby team (click on an image for more pictures)
Intercounty against Orkney Intercounty in Orkney Socialising after the Intercounty in Shetland
Please still include photos. Will hopefully get some new 1's soon.

Below is the article from the Shetland Life

The way of the wonky ball.

When team captain and work colleague Karin Olivier mentioned she was trying to get a ladies rugby team together, to play against the Orcadians coming up in June, I was more than a little apprehensive. Rugby, and ladies, I thought? Do thosetwo words even go together?
And isn't rugby the game where they have the wonky ball? The game with the rules I can't understand? The game with the God-awful injuries? Me? Play that? I don't think so. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but the last time I played rugby was in fourth year PE where 'touch' rugby suddenly turned into 'ha ha lets mow down the lasses' rugby.
But Karin was really worried no one else would turn up so the next thing I knew I was running around a rugby pitch 'pop passing' a wonky ball to my partner while I tried to dodge a whole bunch of worried looking lasses and their partners. Argh!
I told myself that after living through years of 'hooker' jokes I could maybe actually be a legitimate one (the one in the middle of the props that is). And maybe if someone knew I was a big tough rugby player they would think twice before joking about my name� I told Karin that if I hated it or if I was crap at it I wasn't coming back.
As it was, practices were quite good fun, and we took it seriously right from the word go. I don't know what our coach Wayne Leslie thought when he first saw his 'team' in front of him, but he managed to stifle any giggles and didn't run in the opposite direction in despair.
I don't think you could call any of us typical rugby players (none of us were built like brick you-know-whats anyway), but we were all quite athletic and we had a couple of hockey players and karate/judo enthusiasts in our midst.
If any of us had played rugby before it was in PE and was supposedly 'touch' rugby, so we were all quite glad when our first practice game was in fact touch rugby.
We had done a fair bit of practice with passing the ball and had been told how to throw it and how to catch it, but it's a bit more difficult when you have to put it into practise and you have a line of folk running straight at you.
The ball was going all over the place and as I, for one, had no clue what the rules were, it was full of laughs as well as mishaps. It was really tiring though. As soon as the other side got tackled you had to run back (10 yards I think, but it seemed like more) and get into your straight line of defence again.
At the end of the first practice I was in one piece and had no bruises or injuries to show off. Wayne had also told us that we hadn't done too badly for our first time (yeah, we actually believed him).
During the next week I went over the rules in my spare time so I didn't look quite so stupid at the next practice. (I had admitted to Karin that I had enjoyed myself, and she had convinced me that I wasn't any worse than anyone else, so, yes, I went back.)
Only to discover that we weren't going to play touch rugby any more and I had to learn a whole new set of rules. Damn.
We did plenty of drills at the start of every practice and although in the early stages it was only passing and catching the ball we practised, we were soon taught how to tackle. This is when it was very obvious that we were ladies, or should I say peerie lasses. We giggled our way through tackle practice, but eventually managed to get to the stage where we grunted and said "ow" instead of screeched.
It wasn't long before we were lined up against our 'opponents', ready to tackle properly. When I say opponents I mean huge big bags full of (supposedly) soft stuff for us to fling ourselves at, I mean tackle.
At first I found this particularly sore, and couldn't quite figure out why. Luckily Wayne was on hand with his words of wisdom - I wasn't getting my head out the way. Oops. I was running head on and basically head butting the damn thing (no wonder I had a crick in my neck the next day) but I finally got the hang of it, I think, and stored away THAT particular tactic for when we were pitted against a men's team. Watch out boys.
Luckily Wayne felt my strengths (huh!) didn't lie in whatever it is you do in the scrum, so I didn't have to do any of those. Or line outs either. He obviously had an idea what positions we would be playing, but at this point there was not much point in telling us since we didn't know what each position did.
After a couple of Tuesday practices we suddenly remembered that we had our first match in less than a month, so we stepped up training to two nights a week. This is when friends, and family in particular, started to get worried - I was actually being serious about it.
My sister was worried I'd break a leg and not be able to go on holiday with her.
My Mum was eyeing my rainbow bruises as she handed me flyers for ballet class.
Most of my friends just laughed and said good luck (the "you'll need it" left hanging in the air.)
"Oh I don't think it's a woman's game."
"Haven't Orkney been playing for a year and a half - how long have you been playing for?"
"When's your women's mud wrestling match on? Can I watch?"
"I can lend you some Sellotape so you don't lose an ear?"
"Are you having proper practices? Are the men taking your training seriously?"
"You do realise you will probably lose, rugby is not something you can learn overnight."
"You're gona get hurt."
"Won't your boobs get in the way?"
I started to get very worried. The Orkney RFC website crept onto my 'favourite site' list at work, and my arnica muscle salve found its way into my desk drawer as the bruises multiplied. The photo of the Orkney women gave me the heebie-jeebies - they looked huge, though I do admit I was so worried I could have been looking at a photo of a primary school team and I would have been shaking.
We hadn't been taught all the rules and the ones we had been taught you could hardly say we had a firm grasp of. Oh yes and the bruises were getting worse and I actually had a boob bruise - yes, they do get in the way.
On my way to the last practice I gave myself a talking to and was practicing visualisation techniques and positive mental attitude. I had just finished work and was on my way into the Clickimin to change out of my fairly smart-ish clothes into my rugby stuff, managing to whistle a little as my (borrowed) football boots swung from my hand. "I can do this. I can do this," I thought.
Then I noticed I was getting a funny look from a man walking near me. "Oh sh.., was I speaking out loud?" I thought. I smiled at him.
"I hope you don't mind me saying this," he said, "but it doesn't really match." He gestured to the boots and my work clothes. His jaw nearly fell through the floor when I told him I was in fact playing rugby, and was a member of the Shetland Ladies Rugby Team. I didn't tell him I hadn't actually been selected, but was only one of the lasses who had continued to turn up at practice; I thought his heart might not be able to take the truth.
That encounter kind of mucked up my last practice - I was too timid, not quite motivated enough, and scared stiff. I also managed to get an elbow in the head and some other body part in the face, nearly making me greet. What the hell am I doing here I thought?
I calmed down a little during the week but I actually had a nightmare about the game so I must have worked a little too hard to keep my fears out of my conscious mind.
We were due to play on the Sunday but before that there were two days of men's and junior rugby games on. The ladies team was drafted in to 'man' the bar and we went along to the dinner and disco in the North Star on the Saturday night too. None of us had too much drink, and what I did have had no effect, as my thoughts kept drifting back to the game the next day.
The next day I woke up with a start, knowing that something awful was supposed to happen but for a blissful split second forgetting what it was. I couldn't face breakfast but managed a can of Red Bull for energy. I boiled and moulded my new gum shield, having nearly ruined one of Mum's saucepans spoiling my first one. (I still haven't quite got over the fact that there is a need for a gum shield in my life.)
Kick-off, or whatever it is in rugby terms, was at half past one. Quarters would be seven minutes each and since Orkney were more used to fifteens, and us to sevens, the first half would be played sevens, the second half tens.
I must confess to thinking - oh my good God we are going to look so ridiculous when we go out there. Did we even have ten people in our team? What on earth were tens rules? Come to think of it, what on earth were sevens rules?
Lesley Mouat and I were told we would be playing back. What's a back do Wayne? Oh, you just mince around at the back. He did elaborate a peerie bit more, but Lesley and I were fairly convinced we could be mincers.
Luckily I started in my favourite position, the one I felt I would be most use at - substitute.
The worst part of my substituting life (all seven minutes of it) was when I saw our peerie Emily Tait being tackled by an Orcadian, and flying about four metres through the air before she eventually bounced to a standstill. Luckily she was none the worse after being spun all that distance, but it didn't do anything for those of us waiting nervously for our turn.

If it's possible, it's probably more nerve-wracking standing on the sidelines pretending you know what they are all shouting about. I did realise when they got points and managed to clap in the right place, but I had no idea HOW many points.
Yes, you read that right. We scored tries. Most of us admitted afterwards that we were really pleased when we got our first try, because we knew we wouldn't be on zero, but by the time I was put on as a mincer at the start of the second quarter we were doing really well.
Despite not knowing if I was doing the right thing or not, I gradually relaxed into the game and actually began to enjoy it. The male streakers we had were quite good too.
I had folk shouting conflicting advice from both sidelines but eventually I decided just to do what I wanted.
I stopped worrying about hurting myself and others, and I am quite proud/ashamed? to say that I didn't even apologise when I tackled someone. It's so much easier to launch yourself at someone when you don't know them.
I also managed to stop worrying about getting too muddy. I know it sounds silly, but when you spend your whole childhood getting told by Mum and Dad not to get your clothes dirty, it feels really unnatural throwing yourself around a rugby pitch and actually rolling about in the mud. Maybe it's just me?
I scored a surprise try too, apparently the daintiest one of the match, but only because I nearly forgot you had to put it down when you were over the line.
Luckily the tries kept coming, and although the Orcadians improved in the tens half, we eventually managed to win 62-0, and were absolutely ecstatic.
Sunday night was far easier to enjoy, though I felt very sorry for the poor folk caught up in the impromptu karaoke in the Marlex, and almost as sorry for myself when I had to take Monday afternoon off and go home.
I have to admit now, that even with all my worrying - and I can safely say that I was the team worrier - I really like rugby. It's fantastic fun. Friends and family have all calmed down a bit (several when I told them the score, immediately launched into their practised commiserations, so you can imagine what they are saying now), and there is even a tiny part of me that is looking forward to our next game.
Orkney is coming up again at the end of August and we reckon this time they will be after our blood. Lovely lasses though we found out they all are, I don't think they were too happy about getting gubbed, and we are playing their preferred fifteens next time, so the score will not be quite so dramatic.
At this point I want to say a big thanks to Wayne, the other guys who helped out and to all our supporters (and streakers) on the day, 'cause we couldn't have done it without you!
Unfortunately, even with super-coach Wayne and his helpers, we can not magic 12 players into 15, so we are on the look out for new recruits. I have re-ordered my muscle salve, so if you fancy coming along for a go then have no fear, we'll go easy on you, and it's not too sore. The fact that the team worrier is saying this should really make you come along for a go. If you don't like it, you don't have to come back, but be warned, I fell for that one and look where it got me. Practises are Sunday evenings at the Clickimin rugby pitch from 6pm-8pm.
Also, if any of you out there can think of a Shetland version of the Haka for us to scare our opponents witless with, please let us know, because knowing my nerve problem I will need it by the time August comes. What comes after 62?