St Chad’s may be Durham’s smallest college, but this has not prevented their women’s rugby team from achieving success. Described by the college’s Sports Rep, Nick Halliwell, as ‘definitely one of our sporting highlights’, they won Chad’s Team of the Year last year, after finishing second in the league to Cuth’s.
Alicia Hatvany, Captain, admits that their success came initially as a “massive shock” having only won a couple of matches in the previous season.
But the girls have continued their winning ways this year, despite coming up against larger colleges, including hybrid teams such as Graidens and Trollingwood.
“We were fortunate enough to have retained almost our whole team from the previous season and so had a strong and sturdy team who knew how to play together.”
According to Alicia, keen to stress the popularity and reputation of women’s rugby in Chad’s, being a small college is not necessarily a disadvantage.
“Because of the small nature of the college we get to know one another very well. Therefore when we play as a team we are quite good at knowing who is the best player in each situation and what our next move will be. The rugby girls are a tight knit bunch.”
This strong team spirit is cultivated through a winning formula of tough training and a fun social scene, and has helped attract new players, solving the issue of numbers suffered by other teams.
“We are quite strict on training sessions and attendance in general. As a team we train twice a week. But, it is not as serious as it looks. First and foremost, we have a lot of fun.”
The girls have accrued a strong sporting reputation in Chad’s, but they are equally renowned for their socials, known as ‘Slutters’, as they are for sporting excellence. A sense of humour is something prized highly by the group, crucial to developing a welcoming team environment.
“If a girl makes a silly mistake on the pitch we laugh about it, she will never feel bad for any error. In such a small college as Chad’s it is a fantastic way to meet the older and younger girls.”
The team have also benefited from Chad’s distorted gender ratio.
“Chad’s is a college where girls heavily outnumber the boys. Therefore it is predictable that the girls have taken over the boys on the rugby front. The boys are great at coming down to support us for our bigger games.”
As far as Alicia is concerned, the male attention is expected. “Where else can you acceptably watch girls tackle one another in mud?” she asks.
Alicia concedes that women’s rugby on the whole struggles for numbers and thinks Chad’s “are lucky to be the exception”. Other colleges, where women’s rugby possesses a different reputation and perhaps is enshrouded in a certain stigma, would surely benefit from following Chad’s approach.
“The only way to get more girls involved is to change the identity of rugby within a college. When people think of girl’s rugby in our college they think of fun, they won’t necessarily always think about the exercise or the sport itself.”