TWO Ripon Grammar School rugby players have been selected for Yorkshire’s U16 rugby squad.
Olivia Keilloh and Edie Cooper were picked out of 150 hopefuls from across the county to join the prestigious team following tough competitive trials.
Their selection comes as RGS launches rugby training for Year 9, 10 and 11 girls on Monday lunchtimes and Ripon Rugby Club appeals for more U14 and U16 girls to attend its Wednesday evening training sessions.
Year 11 students Olivia and Edie are both delighted to be representing their county.
Olivia, 16, from North Stainley, said: “It’s the highlight of my rugby career. It will give me specialist training alongside other dedicated players and may lead to higher playing opportunities.”
Edie, 15, from Sharow, who was selected for the U15s last season, added that it was a real confidence-booster: “It means a lot to be chosen again and it gives me the opportunity to identify what needs to be worked on within my play.
Olivia, who started playing rugby aged five, plays for Ripon’s U16 team and her ambitions are to keep playing to university level and beyond: “I would like to take it as far as possible.”
She spends around six hours a week playing rugby, mainly centre and wing, but also spends time training in gymnastics, having attained her gold British Gymnastics Award she coaches younger squads at Ripon Gymnastics Academy.
Flanker Edie, who also plays hockey and is a keen equestrian, started playing at seven years old. She devotes more than four hours a week to her rugby training, in addition to playing for her school hockey team and Thirsk Hockey Club teams.
Her ambition is to play for the Red Roses England women’s team one day and she’d love to encourage more girls to play at RGS: “I’d like to get other schools involved as well.”
Her father, Ripon rugby coach Matt Cooper, who will be helping run the rugby sessions at RGS, is especially keen to encourage more girls to take up the sport: “We have a small U16s squad at Ripon Rugby Club so far this season with ten girls. Come and join us.”
*Ripon Rugby Club is appealing for more U14 and U16 girls to come and join its Wednesday evening training sessions, 6.45pm-815pm. No experience necessary. For more information visit www.riponrugby.org