Women’s team is hailed as ‘exciting development’ in Leith Rugby history

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Leith Rugby president Jim Smith has hailed the creation of the club’s first women’s team in its 101-year history as “a breath of fresh air”.

“When people have been in any club for a long time anything that brings new faces through the door and requires you to plan and organise in a different way is a breath of fresh air – especially as this really does strengthen our youth pathways too” said Smith, who joined Leith in 1972.

A headline on the club’s website states: “Exciting development in our club’s history.”

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Echoing this Smith added: “Rugby at youth level in Leith is booming including through Leith Academy under-14 and under-16 girls’ teams known as the Vixens.

Pictured after training are players from both men's and women's teamsPictured after training are players from both men's and women's teams
Pictured after training are players from both men's and women's teams

“For the first time these girls can now progress to senior level without having to move - with our blessings – or, sadly, drop out of rugby."

The situation has arisen because the established Liberton Ladies team have split with their umbrella organisation after their committee claimed they could no longer accommodate what were termed “additional needs” associated with the distaff game.

Leith stepped in offering a new home and administrative back-up but Smith admitted: “There are a lot of areas currently to be explored with our club’s expansion but we'll get there.

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“The way competitive women’s rugby is structured is not something I am overly familiar with but going forward the hope is the new team might be able to play in the cup competition that traditionally launches the season in a few weeks.

Left to right: Men's captain Neil Paterson, Tayemar Fowler-Davis, Jim Smith and Jess SandhamLeft to right: Men's captain Neil Paterson, Tayemar Fowler-Davis, Jim Smith and Jess Sandham
Left to right: Men's captain Neil Paterson, Tayemar Fowler-Davis, Jim Smith and Jess Sandham

“What are the registration protocols? … will Leith women's team go straight into a league or, initially, play in ‘festival’ events? …. is there existing sponsorship that can be carried over? … what will they be called? … does the coaching we are keen to assist with meet appropriate SRU criteria?

“These are questions still to be answered at a time when the women are desperate to get back to playing and put some turbulence behind them but our constitution means all players will be treated exactly the same.

In a joint statement Jess Sandham, past captain, and Tayemar Fowler-Davis, acting captain said: "In searching for a new home, our priority was first ensuring the team could continue developing. The friendships formed at Liberton will last a lifetime, so this was incredibly important to us.

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“What was also important was finding a home where we would be welcomed and respected. We’ve always found Leith Rugby to be welcoming and inclusive when they’ve played our mens’ first team and they’ve been incredibly encouraging and accepting of us.

“Leith Rugby’s constitution reflects our values and is committed to the inclusiveness and accessibility of rugby to all. We admire the standard of rugby they play and are looking forward to growing with the club."

“Training has now started at Leith on Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7.30pm (so) please get in contact with us if you would like to know more. If you would like to help the club in any other way then please email [email protected].”

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