STRATFORD Ladies celebrated an encouraging 2017 touch rugby campaign which built on the successes of previous seasons.
The Stratford team have been going since 2012 and have been very successful on the pitch, securing various first and second placed trophies for individual tournaments and successive league titles in 2015 and 2016.
The target they set themselves at the beginning of the 2017 season was to focus on player recruitment and development. Instead of picking the playing team based on ability and experience, Stratford ensured new players got the attention and match time that is crucial for learning the game.
To that end, 2017 has been an extremely fruitful season. No fewer than ten people made their debut for the team between March and October and Stratford finished a solid fourth in the North East Midlands Ladies Touch League, just one point behind third place and 11 points above fifth.
New coach Rich Pepperell was extremely happy with that finish from predominantly new players to the team and to the game of rugby as a whole. All of those players, added to those that were already involved, are really looking forward to the 2018 season which starts in March.
The ladies celebrated the 2017 season with representatives of the whole club for the first time in their five-year history, having been invited to the vice-presidents dinner at Stratford RFC, where chairman Laurence Kirk presented four awards.
Pepperell chose Most Improved Player and Coach’s Player of the Year and the winners were Bec Charles and Rachel McGovern respectively.
Charles was new to the game in February and yet soon became a vital player on the pitch. She captained the last two tournaments of the season in the absence of Jane McGovern and led the team by example.
Rachel McGovern received her award for being a pleasure to coach, always being dedicated when training and also supporting and encouraging new players.
The squad voted for Players’ Player of the Year themselves and they agreed with Pepperell’s assessment and awarded a second trophy to Charles.
The last award was new for this season and Clubwoman of the Year was Caz Farris who started the team in 2012 and, as observed by Pepperell, has sometimes turned up with nobody else at training. To go from nothing to the success of this season, he felt deserved recognition.
The ladies will continue to be coached by Pepperell and supported by Salts Healthcare, which provided the squad with smart post-match hooded tops for next season.
The ladies will resume training in January 2018 in preparation for the start of the touch season in March. Currently, training will still be on Tuesdays at 6.30pm at Stratford RFC.