Katie Neilson, the skipper of the Sutton & Epsom ladies rugby team, says women who fancy their hand at egg chasing should not let anyone get in their way.

The women are riding a crest of a wave that has lifted the club’s men to the top of London Division One South, and seen the U13s boys’ team crowned young sports team of the year at the Epsom & Ewell Sports Awards – where the club was also named sports club of the year.

Not to be outdone, the ladies are sitting pretty at the top of the Women’s NC London & SE South Division Two table after a run of seven consecutive wins.

And they are not resting on their laurels, as this weekend they are hosting a Pitch up and play session at their Rugby Lane home in an effort to attract more women to the game.

Neilson said: “We love rugby and we definitely welcome anyone who’s interested in giving it a go to see if they love it as much as we do.

“Most of our team is made up of people who fancied coming along and seeing what it was about and now they wouldn’t know what else to do on training and game days.”

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She added: “My advice to anyone thinking about it, is just try it, don’t let anyone stop you.”

Having been at Sutton & Epsom for four years, Neilson has been perfectly placed to witness the development of the ladies’ game, especially in the past year.

And while last season was a morale-sapping year of defeat after defeat, the club ethic has forced a turnaround in fortunes.

“Initially the squad was a lot smaller and we struggled to find 10 to 12 players for a game, then various things happened and we were left with four or five women last summer,” Neilson said.

“Since then we have grown massively, but it was definitely the toughest season I have experienced as we had to learn and grow as a new team, learn to trust each other as well as develop our game play.

“We lost pretty much every game, but what was great to see was that it didn’t dent the morale of the girls, we wanted to win and progress and better ourselves.

“This summer has proven to be the complete opposite - we took part in a few 7s tournaments not expecting the success we achieved.”

She added: “The club also has been a great support and have been behind everything we have done, and it continues to give us great support which I think is important, particularly as there is now that growing interest and focus in women’s and youth girls rugby.

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Sutton & Epsom RFC ladies 

“Ultimately how we are today is not through the efforts of one person, it is through the efforts and spirit of every member of the team, the coaching team, our supporters and the club itself.”

Inevitably the men’s Rugby World Cup was a catalyst for increased numbers of women entering the fray, but Neilson believes there is more to it than that.

She said: “The beginning of the summer is always good for us in terms of people joining while they’re on a fitness drive.

“The Rugby World Cup brought quite a lot of women to the club this year as well, I think maybe with it being in England there was that extra incentive.

"We had 12 people join in the space of two weeks which is amazing.

“However, I really believe the growth of women’s rugby itself has sparking more people’s interest.”

The Pitch up and play session runs from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday at Sutton & Epsom RFC, Rugby Lane. Anyone is welcome and there will be food available at the end of play. For more details, email paulphillips001@hotmail.co.uk

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