Saints Storm to the National 7s Semi-Finals

Tuesday 21 May 2024

A selected women’s squad travelled down to Bournemouth this week to compete in BUCS Rugby 7s National Trophy. We hoped to test ourselves against some of the best teams in Britain after a successful tournament win at Sauventus Scottish Varsity 7s last month. As the first time any of us had competed at this event, we were excited to showcase the recent growth and strong potential of women’s rugby at the University of St Andrews – in a season that has already seen the conception of our 2XV as well as our 1XV achieving a close second place in the Scottish Tier 1 BUCS league.

Our tournament started with three pool matches. An emphatic win against Bournemouth University (27-5), featuring five Saints tries from forcing errors and strong running, gave us confidence heading into the rest of the day.

Next, we faced a physical Exeter side. A strong start from Saints with relentless efforts in defence left Exeter working hard for their first score. This work rate never ceased to drop, though a lack of execution in attack prevented our efforts from materialising into scores. A kick through by Saints to the backspace in the last play, skilfully recovered by Jodie, ensured we did not leave the pitch without points on the board. The final score against Exeter, the eventual tournament winners, was 5-24.

The last pool match was against Bath. A couple of line breaks and passages of clever play by Saints led to three first half tries. Bath’s expansive style of play, however, meant our points were not unanswered, though the score favoured Saints 17-12 at the break. In the second half of our third match, under the heat of full Bournemouth sunshine – rare playing conditions for a team acclimatised to the Scottish winter – our bodies began to tire, and we let a couple of tries pass us by after great support play from Bath. The match finished as 17-27 to Bath. We reflected on our pool matches, defined by a strong collective optimism as we headed into the quarter-final.

In the quarter-final match, against a Surrey side who came second in their pool, Saints were determined to win and earn a place in the final four. This was evident in our play. Both in offense and defence, Saints played with complete intention, continuous support, and great cohesion. Against a tiring Surrey team, the Saints squad’s strength and depth proved significant where, after four Saints tries, the match was cut short due to Surrey injury and shortage of players. Final score was 26-5 to Saints, securing a place in the semi-final.

Our semi-final was against Loughborough who had been unbeaten throughout the tournament so far. Once again, we were very proud of our work rate in defence but knew that we needed to produce some threatening attacking play to compete. A wonderful passage of play, characterised by offloads and support lines from the whole team, made space for Taz to speed down the wing. Two second half tries were scored and converted by Saints, leaving the scoreline 32-14 at fulltime.

To compete against large English universities with established women’s rugby programmes was an opportunity that our young squad took great growth from, with 5 of our players being first year students. A recovery swim at Bournemouth beach in the sunshine was well deserved and gave us the chance to collectively reflect. To reach the semi-finals of a national tournament was a great conclusion to what has been an outstanding and very enjoyable season for the rugby club – which we are very excited to keep building on next year.

Squad members: Ada Fathers, Annabel Sleigh (VC), Isabel Hay, Harper Meyerson, Hope Simpson (C), Iris Pope, Jay Badland-Shaw, Jodie Qursha, Louise Donald, Lucy Hildrey, Lulu Conroy, Emily Kwai, Taz Madan.

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