Varsity "all to play for" – Women’s Rugby Captain

Ahead of the new season Leeds University Women’s Rugby Captain Fran Robbs de la Hoyde spoke to The Gryphon, giving insight on her side’s preseason preparations and looking back on the twists and turns of the last twelve months. 

An eventful season for you last year in the league and the cup it’s probably fair to say, what was your personal highlight?

We had a tough season last year, and despite upsets in the league all the girls continued to put in 100% at every opportunity. The highlight for me was definitely our semi-final cup match against Glasgow Uni. They were previously unbeaten that season and they were playing at home too, so we knew we’d have to put our all in to come out on top! We travelled to Glasgow the night before, and the drive of the girls even in the unusual circumstances just showed what we were capable of, as did the final score of 12-5.

You’ve already started your preseason training – how’s the preparation going?

Preseason is always massively important for us, we’ve got to get both our fitness and our skills up in preparation for Varsity on October 5th. Our pitch captain for this year Bo Jackson, and our coach Jake have been working together to whip us into shape, and all the girls are loving training hard and eating well! Yesterday saw us doing hill sprints at Roundhay Park- we all know that the effort we are putting in now will directly count against Leeds Beckett and the rest of the matches in the upcoming season.

Thinking about Varsity, it’s not too far away now, how do you rate your chances?

Leeds Beckett have always been a massive rival of ours, and in the past we have struggled against their skill set. This year I think we’ve got one of the best chances that we’ve ever had- as I mentioned, preseason has been focused and everyone has put lots of effort in. Despite losing some of our senior girls when they graduated, the squad remains in extremely strong shape, and on top of that we are an extremely close-knit team which I think gives us a big advantage. It is all to play for in this year’s Varsity, but I think we will give them a challenging match whatever the outcome!

It’s true to say on that on the day the men’s game receives a great deal more attention- is that something you’re looking to change?

It is true that the men’s game sees a lot more publicity and popularity than our game does, but that has always been true, and the most important thing is that year on year the support for women’s rugby does grow, which is reflected in the numbers we get supporting us! Although it would be great to get the same support that the men’s game gets, we are more focused on increasing the number of girls who play rugby, because it is a fantastic way of socialising and exercising. The support England Women saw in the World Cup and at the Olympics will hopefully inspire more girls to get involved with rugby at Leeds!

Finally, if people are interested in getting involved in your society, how do they find out more?

We will be at the International Freshers’ Fair on the 16th as well as the Sport’s Fairs on the 20th and 21st September so anyone can come to our stall there and talk to us! We also have a Facebook group (Leeds University Women’s Rugby) that you can join if you want to come along to training, or if you have any questions. You can also email us on  Our training is 8.30-10 on a Monday and 7-8.30 on a Tuesday at Weetwood! If you fancy coming along with your friends, our Give it a Go is on 4th September- come and try it out, even if you’ve never touched a rugby ball before, everyone is welcome.

Fran Robbs de la Hoyde was speaking to John Gibby.

(Photo: Leeds University Women’s Rugby)

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