Amber Valley Ladies give it a try!

The Amber Valley Ladies squad.

From the basics to competitive matches

From basic fitness and ball sessions to competitive full contact matches, Amber Valley Ladies Rugby squad has made such progress that members are really glad they gave it a try.

Sessions first started in September 2013 with the help of funding from Derbyshire Sport which was passed on to the Amber Valley Village Games.

The ladies' love and enthusiasm for the game quickly grew after starting out from scratch and advancements have been such that two matches have been contested this year.

The sessions attract anywhere between 15 and 20 ladies with a mix of abilities, age (from those in their twenties to fifties) and personalities.

For many of the ladies, this has been the first form of sport that they have been involved with since leaving school.

Learning new skills

As well as learning new skills and improving their overall fitness, the group has a growing social side, enabling local women to meet each other and make new friends.

The group are led by Gareth Pilkington, who is the Chairman at Amber Valley Rugby Club, who has a fantastic attitude towards the women's game and has been instrumental in providing the ladies with the confidence needed to believe they can play, regardless of age or ability.

"For me it has been a very positive experience, and a win-win situation," said player Lisa Turner.

"I get to spend time with my daughter Rosie because we both joined the team , I get to spend time with wonderful people that I class as friends and I also get to do exercise.

A mix of ages and abilities

"We have mixed age and ability range, but this does not matter as each and every one of us has been welcomed with open arms."

Team-mate Sarah Jane Jeeves added: "My friend from school asked me to come along for a bit of fitness. I had no idea at the age of 41 that I would embrace it or make the friends that I have.

"I never ever expected to play in a match. Amber Valley Rugby Club's been great and now three out of the four members of our family play."

Another keen participant, Ashleigh Creswell, said: "Rugby really is a #ThisGirlCan sport. This team has brought together a group of ladies, many of whom were previously inactive or didn't consider themselves as sporty.

"It has allowed us to get active whilst making new friends, learning new skills and most of all loving every minute of it."

Alison Axelson got involved by following in the footsteps of her sons. She added: "Having supported and transported my sons to training and matches from boys to men, when a friend enthused about the new ladies team she had joined I decided to have a go before I get too old.

Well thought out and structured

"Already the age when most rugby players have retired everyone has been very welcoming. The training is well thought out and structured (and must take loads of thought and preparation, so very grateful to our coaches).

"My stamina and fitness has improved. I've loved everything, apart from being flattened by a very large prop. The ladies are brilliant. And I wear my bruises with pride.

And club colleague Karen Denning said: "Having been part of this group since the beginning I have seen it grow from strength to strength.

"New ladies come to the sessions and are hooked. Rugby is a sport for all. The dynamics of this team sport mean that you train harder and play for each other."

To find out more about Amber Valley Ladies Rugby, please contact either Beth Turner on 07584 904519, email or call Gareth Pilkington on 07772 366157.