World Cup winner Nolli Waterman encourages women to try out rugby taster event at Sleaford RFC

An introduction to the sport...

Nolli Waterman. Photo: Getty Images

England World Cup winner Nolli Waterman is hopeful the ever-increasing profile of women’s rugby can serve as inspiration for women to try the sport at Sleaford Rugby Club’s taster event on Thursday, September 16.

In the wake of Team GB’s valiant Olympic effort in Tokyo, World Cup winner Waterman believes an ever-increasing swell of exposure means there’s never been a better time for females to give rugby a go.

The former Red Roses star, broadcaster and coach, is hoping women will take the opportunity to try something new and challenge themselves in a different way by picking up a rugby ball and giving the sport a try this September.

England Rugby’s Allianz Inner Warrior campaign provides a series of fun, social fitness taster sessions for women all over the country and former England international, Waterman, who racked up 82 caps and lifted the Rugby World Cup in 2014, believes now is a great time for the campaign to introduce women to rugby.

"I think it’s an unreal time for women to get stuck into rugby,” she said.

“The vast majority of people who have watched rugby sevens at the Olympic games will have been unbelievably inspired.

“Not just by the athleticism and the skill level, but also all of the camaraderie, everything we’ve seen that has been beamed around the world.

“The arms around each other between opposition teams, the smiles, the teamwork, the highs and the lows. I think it’s been incredible to watch the girls in Tokyo.”

Nolli explained: “The Warrior Taster Sessions are more than just the sport, it’s about the fun, the social element, the challenge physically of just getting active.

“All of us know how important that is but at the moment, with the way that we’ve come through lockdown, a lot of people now are based at home and they’re not able to socialise as much. This is a perfect way to go and meet new people and make friends.

“It’s also important for people to know that they’re not stepping into contact rugby. There’s touch rugby, there’s tag rugby.

“It isn’t just straight into joining a team that’s already in the middle of the season. These sessions take all of that away because you’re with people that are probably at the same level as you.

"One of the hardest things I’ve found since I retired from playing at the top level is the fact that, yes, the rugby was fun, but actually seeing my mates was the bit that I loved the most. That’s really important for people to know.”

Waterman, was also keen to stress that, “this isn’t just about those people who haven’t tried rugby before - I would love for more women to come back to the game, those who maybe had a chance to play a bit at school, and who throughout lockdown have had the challenge of working, family, whatever it might be. I’d encourage them to find time to give back to themselves - that hour in the week to be able to go and enjoy themselves again. I know that rugby is such a perfect way to do that.”

Waterman, 36, who retired from international rugby in 2018, believes the increased exposure women’s sport is receiving in the media – not only the rugby sevens at the Olympics but also at international level and through the Allianz Premier 15s league at clubs around the country – will inspire women to give rugby a try.

“In my heart women’s rugby has always been unbelievable but what’s amazing at the moment is that we are seeing incredible women, and have access to them, whether that’s at games, going to live events when we’re allowed to now, or through the sport being pushed out on the media.

“The more we get to see the women’s game, the more people can see the amazing women who are playing it, and the benefits that rugby has brought to all of our lives.”

With lockdown restrictions lifted and the season kicking off as normal in September, Warrior Camps provide the perfect way to get active, meet new people, challenge yourself and pick up new skills.

Up to 100 local rugby clubs around the country have signed up to host a women’s Warrior Taster Session in September, including Sleaford Rugby Club on Thursday at 6.15pm.

Waterman acknowledges that the Warrior Sessions could be a hotbed for aspiring talent and provide an opportunity to succeed in the sport or compete in the Allianz Premier 15s or go on to play at international level.

However, she sees the sessions primarily being about: “coming and taking part, having fun, meeting people, and just getting out of the house.”

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