A MOMENTOUS day in the history of the Old Penarthians RFC was witnessed last Sunday when the newly established Senior Women’s team aka ‘The Mariners’ played their first ever home game at Cwrt-y-Vil in a friendly V Nelson Belles.

In what turned out to be a rather one-sided affair given the opponents were an established WRU Women’s First Division outfit and the Mariners had only played one previous game ever, it was apparent that the hard work in training has not gone to waste with much progress made since their visit to Fleur de Lys in September and they remained competitive and committed to the last whistle.

The teams that took the field on Sunday in front of a very healthy group of spectators illustrated that the Women’s game is flourishing and the visitors ran out worthy winners.

That the game took place at all was something of a surprise. After the deluge of rain over several days, come pitch inspection time early Sunday morning both pitches were clearly unfit to play on. However, after a combination of effort from a number of volunteers armed with pitch-forks and nature playing its part with some welcome sunshine, come kick-off time the playing surface was just about playable.

The game was preceded by a very well respected minute’s silence in memory of Nelson’s former player Brooke Morris who died recently in tragic circumstances.

The Old Pens Mariners, led by captain Molly Sheehan started very brightly, but the collective organisation of the Nelson Belles, their greater experience and in particular some impressive pace in the three-quarters, proved ultimately to be the difference between the sides. There were very encouraging performances from within the home ranks however and in particular from the Old Pens’ Women of the Match - Hannah Jenkins and Judie Davies.

Father and son coaching team Richard and Joshua Davies and Team Manager (and former 1st XV skipper) James ‘Jippy’ Evans should be very pleased with the progress being made by a very committed group who will be hoping to be accepted into the WRU Women’s League structure next March.

The Old Pens has hosted girls’ rugby for several years but with a newly introduced WRU structure for the Women’s game, the Club was required to apply for ‘WRU Female Hub’ host status to continue the good work started (and continued) by Simon Hall, Ceri Evans and others. We were very fortunate to already have an active senior women’s group training from time-to-time at the Club and when an approach was made by the team previously known as the Vale of Glamorgan Vikings to base themselves at the Club the opportunity was seized upon.

We are very fortunate to have WRU Hub Officer Keri Lovell successfully encouraging participation by girls in the local schools which continues to provide new players for the Mariners Girls’ teams who will hopefully go on to one day represent the senior Women’s XV.

The squad is made up of players – mainly novices - drawn from across the Vale, with some even travelling from Bridgend and Neath to participate in this exciting new venture and their development will be monitored with much interest.

The team trains on a Monday and Thursday evening at Cwrt-y-vil, with games played on a Sunday afternoon and anyone who would like to give it a try is more than welcome to come along to enjoy a family-friendly and welcoming environment.

The next step on the Old Pens Mariners’ journey is next Sunday 10th November when Porthcawl Ladies are the visitors in another friendly home fixture with kick-off at 2.30pm.

Supporters are welcome!