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Warriors break new ground as Hungerford and Thatcham merge to form landmark girls’ rugby team





It has been a momentous time for girls’ rugby in the area following the formation of West Berkshire Warriors.

The club was created by combining two teams – Hungerford and Thatcham – to form the Warriors, who currently have sides at under-14 and under-12.

Warriors have been breaking new ground in West Berkshire, with the under-12s heading into their second season and the under-14s embarking on their first ever campaign.

The newly-established West Berkshire Warriors are blazing a trail in girls’ rugby. Pictures by Chris Forsey
The newly-established West Berkshire Warriors are blazing a trail in girls’ rugby. Pictures by Chris Forsey
West Berkshire Warriors have formed following the merger of Hungerford and Thatcham
West Berkshire Warriors have formed following the merger of Hungerford and Thatcham

It marks an especially significant moment for both Hungerford and Thatcham, who are involved in fielding an all-girls team for the first time in their history.

The under-14s, who are playing in the Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire (HOB) League, had the chance to debut their new kit when they took on local rivals Reading last month.

There was never any doubt that the girls would be pleased with their new strip – in fact, they designed it themselves.

Isla Kemble drives forward determinedly
Isla Kemble drives forward determinedly
Neveah Giles looks for a gap in the defence
Neveah Giles looks for a gap in the defence

On the pitch, the Warriors girls had the chance to learn from a more established and experienced opponent and showed some real promise, playing with skill, flair and smiles on their faces.

The fledgling outfit are focused on more than just winning, with coach Samantha Martin emphasising the wide-ranging benefits rugby can have.

Martin, who has delivered taster sessions in various local schools – including The Downs, Kennet and Trinity – is keen to see the club grow in order to provide a space for young girls to come and enjoy rugby and develop as individuals.

Isla Kemble gets set for an offload
Isla Kemble gets set for an offload
Neveah Giles pounces on possession
Neveah Giles pounces on possession

“The reason I got into coaching is to encourage girls into sport, in particular rugby,” she said.

“We welcome all abilities to the team. Whether they’re new to rugby or have played before, everyone is welcome.

“We’re an incredibly friendly team and we just want to grow the sport. There’s lots of benefits to playing rugby.

“It’s a team sport, it’s a chance to learn new skills that can benefit the girls on and off the pitch.”

Ava Pengilly proves tough to take down
Ava Pengilly proves tough to take down

The club are on the lookout for new players to join their ranks. Whether you’re already well on the way to becoming the next Sadia Kabeya or want to try rugby for the first time, West Berks Warriors offer something for everyone.

West Berkshire has a proud tradition of producing players, with Carys Cox making her Wales debut in September and Cara Brincatt enjoying six impressive seasons in the Premiership. The pair both started playing in the local area.

So, whether you’re intent on following in their footsteps and playing in the Premiership, or just want to impress on the playground, West Berkshire Warriors will provide a safe, fun and welcoming environment to fall in love with the sport of rugby.

Training is held weekly and alternates between Hungerford and Thatcham.

The under-12 team is looking for girls in Years 6 and 7, while the under-14s are on the hunt for prospective players in Years 8 and 9.

For more information, please contact either Samantha Martin at thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com or Rob Cox at memsec.hrfc@gmail.com.



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