Women's Rugby 1s promoted to Premier Division


UYWRUFC 1s secure place in Premier Division North, spearheading a landmark year for women's sport in York

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By Patrick Hook-Willers and George Cook

Forwards of the UYWRUFC 1s, pictured in their change kit. Image: Luke Snell

Yesterday (March 22), the BUCS Executive confirmed in a statement that major league reforms to the setups of Hockey, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Table Tennis and Women’s Rugby Union for the 2019-20 year are going ahead.

As a result of the reform, the Univeristy of York Women’s Rugby Union (UYWRUFC) 1s have been officially promoted into the Northern Premier Division.

The BUCS statement provided a detailed breakdown of the approved reforms and how the creation of a new Women’s National League formed of the six highest performing teams, quantified by BUCS points from league positions and cup performances from the Premier North and South division teams over the last three seasons, would impact upon qualification for the upcoming season’s Premier Division.

Due to the high performance of 2018-19 Premier Division North sides, York have been officially awarded a place in the 2019-20 iteration of the Premier Division North.

Although many may see the manner of promotion as an anti-climax, the achievement of promotion to the Premier Division cannot be understated, with the side having recorded their greatest season in history to become York’s highest ranked side.

In spite of York's limited sporting budget, the club have outperformed opposing university sides with significant funding behind their squads with the ability to field several international level players. In the Northern 1A league containing heavily funded universities such as Leeds Beckett, Manchester Metropolitan and Manchester, all of whom field up to three international players and three scholars, York scored a record 582 points stemming from 127 tries. To put that prowess into perspective, second placed Leeds Beckett notched just 57.

Statistics compiled by George Cook

UYWRUFC President Jennifer Provan spoke to Nouse following the official announcement of their Premier Division status, speaking of the entire club’s pride at the 1s achievement. Provan said ‘they’ve put in so much hard work both at training and in the gym to transform us into the dominant side we have been this season. From half the team having never touched a rugby ball before coming to York, to now being able to call ourselves a Premier Division side is a real testament to how the sport is developing and how passionate the girls here at UYWRUFC are.'

York Sport Union President, Zac Sheppard, told Nouse of his delight at the team's achievement, beaming of 'an absolutely amazing achievement by the team that is so well deserved given how hard they have worked all year. And I can’t wait to cheer them on in Nottingham this Wednesday at the cup finals.'

1s Captain Alice Jones said 'at the start of the season we were ‘stalking’ our opposition and worrying about their international players. We were terrified to be promoted to 1A, as we'd previously been relegated or close to bottom of this league. It still has not quite sunk in that we have been promoted to the premiership. As captain, I am extremely proud of the team and the effort we've put in over the season. Our players have developed at an exceptional rate and I have every confidence in the team moving forward. I wish I were able to stay another year to be able to compete in the Premier Division with them.'

The promotion comes as another highlight in a watershed year for women’s sport at York. The 2018/19 year has seen various noteworthy moments relating to women’s sport, including the creation of the university’s first women’s football college league and the announcement of Netball and Women’s Rugby Union being the showcase opening and closing fixtures at this year’s Roses tournament.

Four women’s sides also secured promotion from their leagues (Lacrosse 1s, Table Tennis 1s and 2s, Tennis 1s and Rugby Union 1s), as well as Women’s Volleyball 1s winning the Northern Conference Cup and Women’s Basketball narrowly ending their cup run as runners-up.

To round off their season the UYWRFUC 1s have their Conference Cup final this Wednesday (27 March) v Cardiff Metropolitan, to be held in Nottingham, followed by the Roses Closing Ceremony on May 5.