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Northampton Saints Community programme passes 500-girl milestone

A Northampton Saints Community programme designed to encourage sustainable delivery of girls’ rugby coaching in schools has reached an incredible 500-participant milestone.

During the 2023/24 academic year, the Girls Rugby Development Programme has been delivered by the Saints Community team to 12 schools in Northamptonshire and will also be expanding into neighbouring regions during the Spring and Summer terms.

Each school receives a one-hour session per week over a six-week period, delivered by Women's Rugby Pathway and Development Manager Emma Hardy, who has played more than 70 times for Northampton Saints’ partner Club, Loughborough Lightning.

The programme ­– which is supported by leading insurance provider Gallagher and the RFU, who provide mouthguards to all participants – is aimed at girls in Years 7 and 8.

It culminates in participating schools being invited to a festival held at the home of Northampton Saints, cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, which is one of the host venues for the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

“The female game has experienced a period of incredible growth in recent years, and it is our intention to try and get as many young girls playing rugby as possible,” said Hardy.

“The main aim of the project is to try and create sustainability of girls’ rugby delivery.

“The first big barrier of delivering at schools is the fact it’s not always on the girls’ curriculum to do rugby. 

”By me going into schools, rugby is on the curriculum for a short space of time and then can hopefully continue to be delivered into the future.“

Emma Hardy, Women's Rugby Pathway and Development Manager

“The way we’re trying to create more regular delivery of girls’ rugby within these schools is by providing teachers with CPD (Continuing Professional Development). They shadow me for six weeks and do parts of the delivery to get a bit more comfortable coaching, especially the contact element of the game.

“So, then there’s not that barrier for girls to access rugby within school and it creates more opportunities to play. Hopefully the teachers are more confident to deliver coaching and it carries on when I leave.”

Recent sessions held at Campion School and Language College saw 120 girls participate, taking the overall number of girls to have benefitted from the programme past the 500-mark.

While pleased with achieving the milestone, Hardy is keen to kick on and reach out to even more schools.

“It’s really positive that we’ve managed to hit that number, but we’re not done yet,” Hardy said. “It is going in the right direction, schools are wanting to be involved and hopefully getting some good development out of it, and the programme is highlighting how much girls actually enjoy rugby when it is put on the curriculum. That’s really encouraging for the future.

“We’ve got plenty of space to grow the programme even more and get more schools involved, over this year but also the next academic year, and we’re hoping to grow even further in what is an exciting time for the female game as we build up to the arrival of the Women’s Rugby World Cup to the region.”

Please contact [email protected] to book in girls rugby sessions for your school. Places are also still available on the Girls Rugby Coach Development Series, which is also ran by Hardy, with the next event coming on Wednesday 20 March. To book, please click HERE.


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