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East London women launch recruitment drive

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 March 2016

East London members work for the London Fire Service, London Ambulance, communications, HR and education (pic: Paul Boyling)

East London members work for the London Fire Service, London Ambulance, communications, HR and education (pic: Paul Boyling)

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Club send “You Don’t Have To Be” message

East London's women (pic: Paul Boyling)East London's women (pic: Paul Boyling)

East London Rugby Club used International Women’s Day to launch a new recruitment campaign called You Don’t Have to Be, designed to attract more players.

The campaign focuses on the everyday jobs of the team based at the Memorial Ground, West Ham, where firefighters, police and ambulance staff, teachers and City professionals are amongst the players.

Team captain Ciara Baxter, an occupational therapist and child counsellor, said: “Firstly, we want to end the misconception that rugby is a man’s game. Secondly, it doesn’t matter what size you are or what job you do.

“You can be short, tall, large or small – there’s a position for everyone out there on the pitch. Almost two million women and girls now play rugby around the world. We hope others will join us.”

The campaign features firefighters Nicola Barlex, Kat Salthouse and Victoria Archer-Lee, teacher Katy Burton, City professional Aoife Farrell, ambulance dispatcher Samantha Leetch and police communications officer Amanda Farrow.

Barlex, from Stratford Red Watch, said: “You don’t have to be a firefighter to play rugby. I got into it when my crew was at the Mayor’s Newham Show and East London Ladies were promoting the team.

“I was hooked from the first training session. I was made to feel so welcome. It’s great fun and I wish I’d started sooner. Rugby embraces diversity. It’s the perfect example of how working as a team can achieve great things. It’s fun and you make life-long friends along the way.”

Salthouse, also from Stratford Red Watch, added: “It’s fun and exciting and I love team sports, especially ones that cater for all shapes and sizes. East London Ladies are brilliant. I’ve gone from a novice to being a committed active member of the team in just over a year. I’d recommended anyone to come and play because it builds confidence, fitness, skills, and above all friendships.”

Archer-Lee, from Shoreditch Blue Watch, added: “I’ve being playing for 13 years and have met some of my best friends through it. Rugby is such an inclusive sport. There’s a role for everyone. Anyone thinking about playing should go for it. It was one of the best decisions I made.”

Leetch, a London Ambulance Service Emergency Medical Dispatcher, said: “I wanted a new challenge when I came here to study at university. I’d played various sports but rugby was like being with a family. Others should try it.

“Come and watch us and ask about our experiences. It looks scary but when you play but it becomes so much easier and you make friends for life.”

Metropolitan Police communications officer Farrow added: “You put your body on the line but have fun doing it. You’ll never look back if you come and play. Rugby becomes a huge part of your life and you become part of a special family.”

Teacher Burton, from Plaistow’s New City Primary School, said: “I loved watching rugby but never had the opportunity to play. Our PE co-ordinator needed a member of staff to work with a coach from East London RFC who was coming to run an after-school club. I offered to help and was invited to train with the ladies team. Rugby is inclusive and welcoming. There’s a role for everyone and anyone.”

Farrell, an HR Assistant with FC Business Intelligence, said: “My housemate played at University of East London (UEL) for the men’s team and recommended I play for the women. I’ve never looked back.

“I was one of the first members of the East London team when it started five years ago. Nothing comes close to the family atmosphere rugby has. It is an intensely supportive environment and offers a great social life as well.”

East London Ladies train on Wednesdays during the season from 7-9pm at the Memorial Ground, Holland Road, West Ham. See their facebook page for more.

n East London’s women maintained their hold on top spot in the National London Two South East League with a 39-0 win over Harlequin Ladies at the Memorial Ground in West Ham on Sunday.

Scrum-half Aoife Farrell opened the scoring on four minutes, handing off two defenders to score to the right of the uprights.

And left wing Rachel Edmead extended the lead three minutes later when she chased a kick through by second row Samantha Leetch to pick up and touch down in the right corner.

Farrell scored her second try on 15 minutes, following a scrum on the five-metre line, as she received quick ball from number eight Ciara Baxter to go over, with Leetch converting.

And East London scored again when centre Meg Ryder went over under the posts, which Leetch also converted for a 24-0 lead at the break.

The try of the game came five minutes into the second half when Ryder showed power and pace to beat three defenders in the left corner for her second try.

Eight minutes later Leetch powered her way under the posts and converted her own try, then rounded off the scoring with a penalty kick from in front of the posts.

East London visit Barnes Ladies, who sit one place and one point behind them with three games remaining, on Sunday and captain Ciara Baxter said: “Our only defeat this season came at home to Barnes on the opening day of the season. We go there confident, but expect it to be tough.”

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