Aldershot. Swirling drizzle. Cold wind. Red hot rugby.
Army Women took on a strong England Nomads XV and were narrowly overcome by two tries to one. It wasn’t a day for even attempting conversions. Team Manager Don Smith muttered that it might be the wrong result but by that time the conditions had been forgotten and a warm glow had descended around the Army stadium.
This was a fine performance against international players who were proud to wear their club socks—on one leg!!. In turn the Army fielded four of their own internationals and the rest played merry hell into the opposition.
The Army squad is more complete than it ever has been and carries a ‘can do’ air. Led by the returning Jane Leonard at No7 the Reds tore into the Nomads’ reputations. With the conditions in their favour they could have let the wind do the work with maybe the odd hoof into the Nomads ‘22’ . Nevertheless watching the pack thunder and Kate Hancock No10 lead the team through the phases was an afternoon well spent.
Former England flanker Leonard was immense as was Erica Mills at No6. Both contributed to the Nomads difficulties in coping with the wind. Both nailed Nomads’ mistakes before the heavy mob arrived to give some of England’s finest [no—not Tesco’s ] little time to reflect on what they thought might be an end of season celebration.
The front row with Rae Metters striking between Bee Dawson and Charlie Maxwell were awesome. Pound for pound they gave the Nomads a choice between a ‘rock and a hard place’and by the final whistle were in shunting mode.
Nil-all at half time seemed a fair score.
The Nomads—‘nod nod, wink wink’–had noticed the wind and the ball went high. Two tries were scored in ten minutes but that was it.
The Reds responded, drove back against the conditions and the Nomads appeared to run out of, well, not quite certain what –but they flagged. Cue Bee Dawson, Leonard, No8 Ellie Gattlin and the enforcers. Driving mauls, rucks, anything and everything was thrown forward hi-tempo style for Sarah Mitchelson to crash over. Army 5pts—10 nomads.
This performance says oodles for the Army coaching and management team. There is a purpose and confidence at the first whistle. The play, whatever the conditions, is well worth the entrance money and there is always a buzz in the stadium. The Women can field five internationals in key positions and as of now probably two teams. No wonder there is a ‘whoosh’ around all aspects of their game.
From Belgium to Aldershot the quality has been top notch so now, without over-confidence, for the Inter –Services and of course the tour to North America.