Talented female students will be given the chance to pursue a career as a professional rugby player, thanks to a new sporting partnership.
Bishop Burton College has teamed up with Darlington Mowden Park Sharks RFC to give girls on its rugby programme the unique opportunity.
The college will act as a feeder for the Tyrell’s Premier 15s League side, which will also have training sessions at the college campus, near Beverley, East Yorkshire. Students will be able to learn from the club, including on aspects such as fitness and nutrition, with the most talented potentially able to progress and play for the first team.
Mike Umaga, Director of Rugby at the college, said: “The college will be a regional centre of excellence for the rugby club, which plays in the country’s elite competition for women. To be involved with a club at this level is a major coup for the college.
“This will be a tremendous pathway for our students. We get talented students coming to our college and they will be able to see a clear link with a Premier club.”
The college currently has one girls’ team, coached by 74-capped England Women’s World Cup winner, Head of Girls’ Rugby, LaToya Mason. The team plays in the Association of Colleges (Aoc) league and the college is expanding its programme in line with the increasing popularity of the women’s game.
Mike – who himself represented Samoa in two World Cups and has more than 20 years’ coaching experience – said: “Talented young female players will be able to come and study with us, get a real insight into elite rugby and also have the potential to go and play for a Premier club.
“Once or twice a year, the senior women’s team will train here and we can invite our talented girls to come and see for themselves what they are aspiring towards.
“Female rugby is definitely on the rise. Darlington are semi-professional at the moment, but in time they will be professional, so there is the potential for one of our students to secure a professional contract with them in the future.”
Danny Brown, director of rugby at Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, said: “As a club, we are delighted to be working with Bishop Burton College. They have a fantastic set up, as well as a proven track record of developing quality rugby players.
“The partnership adds to our existing player pathways and at the club and I’m sure it will help provide great opportunities for young female rugby players.”