Aviva Premiership Rugby and Bristol Rugby Community Foundation celebrated Women’s Sport Week in scintillating style as school students from the area were given the chance to be coached by members of the Bristol Ladies Rugby first team.
As part of the double award-winning Eagle Project aimed specifically at girls in Years 8, 9 and 10, Bristol Ladies stars Sasha Acheson and Kathryn Buggy delivered a coaching session to 24 girls at Sir Bernard Lovell Academy, hoping to inspire the next generation to follow in the footsteps of England international Acheson.
Women’s Sport Week – now in its second year – is an opportunity for everybody involved with working in sport to celebrate, raise awareness and increase the profile of women’s sport across the UK.
And there was no shortage of talent in the session, with Bristol Rugby, Wales and British & Irish Lions international Ian Evans on hand to witness some impressive displays both on and off the pitch – despite this being just week four of the current Eagle Project programme
“The girls have been really impressive, there are definitely a couple of them who could have a crack at playing rugby week in, week out, hopefully in clubs around the area, and that’s what these projects are all about,” said the second-rower.
“We’ve seen the success that the England women’s team have had in recent years with the World Cup win in 2014 so it’s very important that these programmes are in place to be able to take that to the next level.
“You see a lot of people go into schools for boys rugby, but to have the Bristol Ladies come in to see the girls as part of Women’s Sport Week is nice, it shows what they can aspire towards. It brings out a lot of confidence in the team environment, showing the principles of the game which can be benefit on and off the field.
“Anyone should go along to play at a club, even if it’s just for one training session to begin with to give it a crack, and it can be great for them to get that experience.
Bristol Rugby’s Eagle Project picked up the PLAY Award at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards in 2015 and 2016, with the aim being to retain girls in the sport as they progress through school and into adulthood.
It’s a programme which continues to reap the benefits at Sir Bernard Lovell Academy, with Emma Barton, PE curriculum team leader, keen to make sure the influence carries on for her students.
“When you have a look at the skills they’re doing and the way the girls have progressed, it’s absolutely incredible,” she said.
“A few of the girls were nervous about taking up a sport outside of their comfort zone, but they absolutely love it and some of them now want to go onto feature in rugby clubs.
“Having Sasha join in the games was excellent, and the girls have really responded to that. They loved the feedback, and in Ian they are being coached by an Aviva Premiership Rugby and Lions man, and that’s not something many students get.
“Women’s Sport Week is absolutely brilliant, and to see their role models is fantastic. This summer has seen women’s sport teams coming out and that is so inspiring for our girls to go on and see what they can achieve.”