Eileen Glesson proudly wearing her Irish gear after playing for her country at under 18 level.

Nenagh Ormond Girls Rugby show their stripes in 2020

Nenagh Ormond Girls Rugby in 2020 bought into the #20x20 and #showyourstripes initiatives in a major way

This initiative was born with the aim of increasing awareness in female sport in 2020 by focusing on three areas: 1) increasing media coverage, 2) increasing participation, 3) increasing attendance at female sporting events.

Nenagh Ormond Girls Rugby signed the charter along with 300 other clubs spanning various sporting organisations. Their aim was to promote the sport of rugby and increase awareness to the wider community of Nenagh Ormond RFC Girls Rugby. Clubs participating received their flag which was proudly on display at the events and matched attended.

The underage girl’s section of Nenagh Ormond was founded in 2017 by Colleen McCullough and Maria Butler, who saw an opening for participation by girls in Nenagh. This has grown from strength to strength each year since with over 70 girls attending training every week.

2020 commenced on 2nd January in Lisatunny where the U16’s took on Ballina on a bitterly cold and wet day. Despite these conditions both teams turned up happy for some fresh air after the Christmas break.

The next U16 match was away to Highfield in Cork on 7th March and was unexpectedly the last match of the year. Shortly after this all sport was suspended.

The U18 team secured a match in Thurles where they were victorious 28-15. Following on from this the Cup semi-final set for March 16th was cancelled and to date has not been rescheduled.

The U12 team grew significantly from the start of the season. Many blitzes were attended. Nenagh hosted a blitz attended by over 100 girls from eight clubs in November 2019. The display of rugby on show by all players was impressive and the support and enthusiasm was uplifting and encouraging to see.

The Under 12 & 14 teams travelled to Fethard for an unexpectedly last blitz of the season. These girls tog out and play despite the conditions thrown at them which can only prove their interest and love of this sport; all of which must be encouraged.

The U16’s and U18’s were brought on an organised trip to see Ireland v Scotland Women’s 6 Nations game in Donnybrook. There was a fantastic display of rugby on the day by the teams which was inspiring for the spectators, the vast majority of which were women. The bus trip was one of the last experiences of the old normal times with everybody chatting closely and singing their hearts out all the way down the N7.

Not to be left out, the Under 10 to 14’s were brought to Thomond Park to see Munster v Scarlets PRO14 match on 29th February. Once again, the weather gods were raging against them, but the match was a fantastic success with the girls meeting various team members afterwards for autographs and photographs. They returned home with more singing happy and tired after a great fulfilled afternoon.

Shortly after this the season was suspended due to the Covid crisis which has taken the world by storm. Social media, in this instance, proved to be a valuable tool during the pandemic by providing a means of communication between the club and its members. The clubs Facebook page was active with some imaginative videos encouraging us at home to stay safe in hope of returning to the pitch soon.

Events were organised and promoted throughout the club. One such event was the #BigRugbyRun which was a nationwide charity event which the under 16 and under 18 teams participated in. Both ran virtual marathons posting their individual runs online while gaining sponsorship for this event. In spite of the distance between people they came together online and showed how a team could remain united despite logistical disadvantages.

In July, the pitches were reopened, and the girls returned excited and enthusiastic for the upcoming season. Since returning new girls have joined the current group with training continuing on Wednesdays.

The Under 18’s were fortunate to play a match in Nenagh against Ennis before further restrictions halted any competitive play in October.

Throughout the year, the girls have shown great spirit and maturity while continuing training at home and with Nenagh Ormond. It was disheartening to have a season with so few matches, however, they have shown great resilience and strength. They look forward to returning to training and finally playing rugby they love.

All coaches wish to acknowledge parents and guardians of the players who have abided by every guideline outlined to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the coaches and players. Without this commitment they club would not have remained open.

Nenagh Ormond were proud to see their own Eileen Gleeson selected for the Irish under 18 squad who travelled to Scotland last February. She is an inspiration to all members of the club and all girls playing rugby who are looking to follow in her footsteps.

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