It was an absolute joy to meet the Clevedon Girls’ Rugby Club and Cath Wren, at the beginning of July. Elaine described Cath, who is the founder of the Girls’ Rugby Club and current manager/administrator of the U18s, as her number one fan, and articulated tremendous gratitude to Cath for believing in her, and for her dedication to girls’ rugby in Clevedon. This was a sentiment that was echoed loudly and clearly by all of the girls when I interviewed them in July.
They were such an interesting group who epitomised the core rugby values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship. Check out my blog post on the girls here: I was particularly intrigued by Elaine Webster, a relative newcomer to the sport who had just been invited to a trial and then asked to play for Somerset in the U18s age group, along with Jasmine McArdle, Rosie Wren, Reneeqa Bonner, Millie Gilbert and Ruby Bassett who were invited to play for the U15s age.
The results following a trial are always published on the website and I found it quite endearing that Elaine, believing that she could not possibly have been successful did not check the website for the results! It was her sister who broke the news!
Elaine is about to embark on the second year of her A levels at Clevedon School having chosen Health and Social Care, Psychology and Physical Education. Her sister Courtney has just completed Year 13 and is nervously awaiting results. Elaine is currently unsure about what she is going to do post A Levels but having interviewed her on two occasions, I am sure this very articulate, independent, empathetic young woman will make a huge success of anything she decides upon.
Elaine spent her early years in Canada, returning to England at the age of nine, and it wasn’t until she started secondary school in the UK that she really became aware of rugby. It was during her GCSE year that she signed up to the club and she is now a confirmed devotee.
Keeping herself fit and healthy for the game is not difficult for Elaine, she has her training regime at the club which consists of touch on Tuesday, fitness on Wednesday and in season, contact and normal training on a Thursday. Added to this, her family have two horses Charlie and Jules, Jules has now retired so Charlie who was originally bought for Elaine is now shared and she tries to ride him regularly.
Horse riding is something Elaine has done since a very young age, it’s a joy she shares with her mother.
She cannot remember a time when horses were not part of her life, however the pressure of her A level courses has meant that she has had to cut back on her involvement.
Elaine has participated in a number of unaffiliated competitions and although she loves show jumping she enjoys doing one day events as they include cross country which is where she excels.
Regular walking is also part of her regime, as the family also have four dogs: Scamper a Pomeranian, Smokey a Springer Spaniel and two Keeshond, Saxon and the latest addition to the family, Saxon’s sister Carmen.
I can understand why Elaine spoke so warmly about her time in Canada, most of which was spent in Rocky Mountain House, a town in west-central Alberta, approximately forty-eight miles west of the City of Red Deer at the confluence of the Clearwater and North Saskatchewan Rivers.
It is a beautiful area, steeped in history and for a family who love animals and love the outdoors, an idyllic place to live but the very long, freezing winters eventually forced them to return. If you’d like to know more about Rocky Mountain House, check it out here:
Back to the rugby! Elaine was delighted to find a contact sport for girls which she felt suited her physique and played to her strengths. She plays number five in the second row and loves being one of the big tacklers and part of the scrum.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of playing rugby, such as improved cardio-vascular health, hand-eye coordination, muscle tone, strength, and endurance, Elaine recognises the myriad of positive effects that rugby has had on other aspects of her health and well-being. She has grown more confident and copes better in social situations, finding it a lot easier to make friends. Thinking about tactics has improved her problem solving skills and the greater concentration and focus which she has had to develop are transferable skills which she recognises as being useful in other areas of her life, especially her studies. She also finds it is a great way to relieve stress, her mood is always uplifted after a training session or a game and it helps her to regulate negative emotions such as anger and aggression. Elaine also spoke quite eloquently about how it has aided her to develop those very important team skills which help create a real sense of belonging and commitment to each other. The team element of the game was obviously very important to her and is something that will continue to serve her well.
We talked about her recent trial and she explained that in order to play for Somerset, your coaches put you forward for what is essentially a closed trial, they watch you play and then choose the girls they want from that session. Elaine did play for Somerset for a season but decided not to go for trials next year, preferring to go for an open session with the Bristol Bears where the only stipulation is age. She will be attending a trial session this month following her birthday on 9th August.
Clevedon Girls Rugby have a partnership with Bristol Bears who boast a wealth of talent, from World Cup Players, Commonwealth Games Representatives, International Stars and BUCS champions, through to a development squad of committed individuals from across the South West.
The Bears come to Clevedon to give high calibre coaching sessions to the girls and offer coaching sessions in Bristol to the Clevedon coaches. The girls have also had free tickets to games and had the opportunity to be ball girls at some of their games in the Tyrrells Premier 15s which is the top tier of the women’s English rugby union domestic league system run by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
Bristol Bears Women’s Head Coach, the inspirational Kim Oliver was there at the club’s recent open day and Elaine took advantage of the free coaching session that Kim was offering. All the best with the trial at Bristol Bears Elaine.
Two of the Bears attended the Presentation Evening in May where Elaine was awarded The Player’s Player and The Coach’s Player by her coach Mark Davies.
If you’d like to know more about the Bristol Bears Women’s Squad, then check it out here:
I really enjoyed interviewing Elaine, she’s an interesting young woman with so many skills and qualities to admire. Good luck for the future Elaine whichever path you decide to take, and keep in touch.