Early July should have been the start of pre-season for Heriot’s Blues Women, the 2019 champions of the National League Division 1, under the guidance of Women’s Director of Rugby Rhona Hume and Head Coach Ruth Slaven-Ross.
Both coaches are former Scotland players who share a vision of continuing the welcoming culture at Heriot’s Rugby Club, while competing for titles, developing the pathway for girls and growing a 2nd XV team.
‘‘We have travelled the journey every player in the team is on from enjoying social rugby in as young players, training to improve to be senior club players, struggling with selection and juggling work while pushing for international selection,’’ Rhona said.
Players are making the most of the extended off-season to build on the success of their first competitive year and look forward to welcoming new team mates to Goldenacre.
‘‘You can join from any background and experience and feel like a valued member of the team,’’ Ruth said.
‘‘Not only the coaches but the players help each other improve and learn the game in more depth. There is no expectation that all players have to play at the highest level but the support is always there to help those who wish to progress.’’
Ruth describes the Blues Women team as inclusive, with typical Thursday training begins with a game touch rugby with the players from the girl’s section to help with the development of new talent.
Kirsty Armitage, 17, was the first player to come through the Heriot’s girls’ section and debuted for the Blues Women during the Sarah Beaney Cup.
‘‘In the long term, we want a strong junior section that welcomes girls from across Edinburgh to enjoy playing rugby and receive some of the best coaching there is for young girls,’’ Ruth said.
‘‘To have the largest girls and women’s squad in Scotland would be something great to claim and having the backing of the club makes the journey all that more special.’’
Due to lock down, Thursday dinner together as a club after training has been replaced by virtual events such as whole club quiz nights and yoga sessions via Zoom.
‘‘The whole club is working hard to be connected internally across all the different teams and externally to the local community with new engagement plans there brought in by our Super6 Head Coach Andrew Kelly,’’ Rhona said.
‘‘We are in the very fortunate position of being a new section of a very established club and so we have the benefit of years of experience in how to look after players but with the fresh ideas and energy of a new club.’’