As this is my last article of this season, I really must take the opportunity to congratulate one of the greatest achievements of the Ulster club 2009-10 season, an achievement which has largely gone unnoticed.
While the men of City of Derry RFC regained their senior status with a tremendous victory over Portadown, the City of Derry Ladies created their own little piece of history when they became the first team from the club, since the introduction of the All Ireland League, to be promoted to Division 1.
City of Derry Ladies also made it to the final of the AIL Division Two Cup where they lost to Old Belvedere, whose team featured Irish international centre, Nora Stapleton.
You can attempt to list the great number eights in world rugby — Parisse, Fernandez Lobbe, Harinordiquy, but there might just be room for another name.Catalyst for the victorious City of Derry Ladies is my old university pal and number eight, Di Nixon.
At Oxford, Di was a force of nature on the rugby pitch and it appears that, since returning back to these shores several years ago, England’s loss is very much the North West’s gain.
A ferocious competitor, Di is now providing the same inspiration to rugby-playing ladies in the North West.
Anyone who underestimates both the skill level and intensity of top quality women’s rugby will clearly not have watched the autumn international between New Zealand and England Ladies. It was fantastic stuff and further interesting battles lie ahead in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, which takes place this August in England — the home nation’s opening fixture is against Ireland.
Whatever you do, do not underestimate the power of Women’s rugby — it’s Hunky Dory.