Halifax RUFC ladies’ team are destined for big things this season according to former England international Maggie Alphonsi, after she led the side in a training session over the weekend.
Rugby World Cup winners are still a rare breed in England following the men’s side’s early exit from the tournament last week, but Alphonsi is part of that elite list after lifting the trophy in 2014.
The 31-year-old knows the taste of success after also being a part of numerous Six Nations Grand Slam triumphs, and she is hoping she can impart some of that success on the budding Halifax outfit – who finished third in the Women’s NC North 1 standings last term and ahead of Saturday’s session had already beaten Ormskirk in the league this term.
The team will now be recognised all over the country having been involved in Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign for the Rugby World Cup, as part of Land Rover’s commitment to champion grassroots rugby.
And after leading a session geared at improving Halifax’s work at the breakdown, Alphonsi is confident they will be just as successful on the pitch this season.
“It’s been really good to help them get ready ahead of their league game in a couple of weeks time,” she said.
“You can see how important the breakdown has been at the Rugby World Cup, so I’ve been teaching them how to steal the ball, how to hold their own bodyweight, and making the tackle before releasing and getting back on their feet.
“I was also talking about their mentality on the pitch, as when you’re trying to clear someone out essentially whoever wants the ball more is going to get there.
“If you look at what the likes of David Pocock and Michael Hooper have been doing for Australia, you can see how important the breakdown can be on the whole game so that’s what I’ve been trying to show at Halifax.
“It always feels brilliant to get back out on the field at a club like this one. I’ve been very fortunate to play rugby at a high level, and to come back to the grassroots side of things and do some work with players who are progressing through the system feels good.
“I always relish the chance to come somewhere like this and try and make an impact. It really feels like you can make a difference.”
‘We Deal In Real’ aims to put grassroots rugby on the global stage and celebrate the heart and soul of the game during the Rugby World Cup 2015.
And with women’s rugby union now flourishing in the north of England, Alphonsi was more than happy to play her part at Halifax.
She added: “Hopefully they go on to do really well this season and then I can say I’ve had a part in their development.
“It’s really important that we grow rugby as much as we can in the north of the country. It’s something Stuart Lancaster has said he would like to see especially, and there are many rugby union fans in the north too.
“With England having the game in Manchester over the weekend you could see the crowd there, so it’s really important for people like myself and the England team to come up and do things to help that growth.”
*Maggie Alphonsi is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is putting grassroots rugby on the global stage during Rugby World Cup 2015 as part of its ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal