Highland Rugby Club women's captain Amy Brown hails 'incredible' progress after securing league title in debut season
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Highland Rugby Club's women secured the North Two league title last weekend in just their first season of competitive rugby.
A 57-0 win over Moray, curtailed due to an injury suffered by a visiting player at Canal Park, was enough to move Highland ahead of the Caithness Krakens and to the top of the standings in their final game.
While an unfortunate way to wrap up the title, those circumstances do not take away from the achievement of winning the first league they had ever entered.
“We maybe didn’t quite have the elation we thought we would (because of the injury), but the goal for the season to to finish top of the table so we were all delighted to do that,” women's team captain Amy Brown said.
“We set our sights high! The team has just grown massively over the year – both in size and capability.
“Brian Crush, our coach, has been fantastic in bringing us on.
“We went into the season quietly confident. We knew Caithness would give us a really tough challenge, because they were in the league above last year and are more experienced than us.
“We are pretty confident in each other’s abilities though, so we aimed high.”
Making the success all the more impressive is the fact that so many of Highland's players are new to the sport.
Brown is one of many in the team who had never played rugby more than a year or so ago, but the squad has quickly bonded – as evidenced by their results.
“Last weekend we only had five or six players who had played before last year," Brown explained.
"Everyone else has been new to the sport either last year or this year, so it has been a big learning curve for all of us.
“In that last game, everything just seemed to come together. You could see the structure more, there was more thought and decision-making going on rather than being reactive.
“The progress has been incredible.
“I started in September last year, and it’s been brilliant to be honest. I went into this thinking it was just going to be a social thing, I would go down and train but probably not play games.
“I’m pushing 40 now, so I never really thought I’d have a shot at it, but we have all been sucked into the atmosphere and team spirit. It has been amazing.
“I’ve always been really competitive, so to be honest the idea of me going in and doing it socially was probably always a bit pie in the sky.
“It was just that camaraderie that took it to a new level, everyone was so supportive and there hasn’t been any expectations or judgement. If we make mistakes, we make mistakes together and learn from them.
“I have played plenty of team sports growing up, but I've never been part of such a diverse and immense mix of women, and everyone is so supportive. That has been the biggest surprise, how quickly we’ve bonded as a team.”
With their first title already in the bag, Highland can look forward to stepping up to the Women's North One next season.
Before then, though, they will have the National Shield to deal with in the new year, pitting them against tougher challenges more consistently.
“We should get promoted to the next league next season," Brown added.
“Because we have topped the table, we also go into the Shield competition after Christmas, which will be a step up from where we’ve been.
“That will be our next big challenge. We’re going into that knowing it’s going to be another big step up, but we’re all really excited for it.”