Nov 04, 2017
Up and Coming – Saracens Women’s next generation
Head coach Rob Cain believes the future of Saracens Women is looking bright with a host of young players making a big impact on the inaugural Tyrrells Premier 15s competition.
The average age of the starting squad for today’s fixture against last year’s Premiership finalists, Bristol Ladies, is a youthful 21 years old with seven teenagers named in the fifteen.
Cain is thrilled with how the new additions have settled in to life at Allianz Park. “Playing your first year of senior rugby has so many challenges but they have been playing well beyond their years” said Cain. “In the summer they were watching the World Cup and now only a few months later they get to play alongside and compete against many of the players who featured. It’s hugely inspiring for them.”
Seven Saracens were selected this week for the England U20s squad adding to the handful of players involved with the Red Roses, giving a balance of youth and experience which seems to be working well, with the team currently undefeated and sitting second in the league table.
“We have a lot of girls in only their first or second year of senior rugby and our more experienced players have done a great job supporting them, on and off the pitch. It’s such a massive help for them to have this support network and be able to ask questions and learn from those who have a wealth of experience at Premiership and international level. We knew we would need to bring in a few more senior players to complement the work we were doing with this younger group and Marlie, Poppy and Valeria have done a great job since they joined us. They’ve really backed up player’s skill sets and supported their development.”
Under the leadership of Cain, four eighteen year olds have been given the opportunity to taste life in the top flight of the domestic game since September, adding to the nine teenagers last season. “As a club we are all about opportunity - young or old - and we work hard to make sure that players are exposed at the right time so they can showcase themselves in the best light” said Cain. “You only learn from playing and we aren’t afraid of players making mistakes.”
Cain believes that this is a real selling point for the club and why so many young players have flocked to north London. “I think many players come here because they see girls really developing and having fun doing it. We don’t have any preconceived ideas about players and we challenge them in our own environment to see for ourselves rather than going on reputation.”
Zoe Harrison is one of the players that has really taken her chances, earning a senior Sarries call up last season as an eighteen year old. The fly half has had an extraordinary twelve months, finishing top points scorer last season and is still riding top of the charts again this campaign, whilst also recently being named in the Red Roses squad for the upcoming autumn internationals.
“I think maybe the view from people outside the club was it was a bit of a gamble with Zoe last year but for us she showed glimpses of what she was capable of and we backed that” said Cain. “No one can see too far in front but we knew how talented she could be and how far she could possibly go so then the responsibility falls on us as coaches to help her make the most of her talents.”
Cain believes that taking a long term view and nurturing this new crop of young talent is crucial to future success. “Women’s rugby is evolving each season and we have to work very hard to stay ahead of the competition. We don’t have any preconceived ideas about players and we have a very challenging environment which doesn’t always suit more established players. We do things differently and our view last year was to challenge ourselves as a club to develop and unearth the next generation of England players. This has allowed us to be in an even stronger position this time round, as even though the players are young in age, they have many games of senior rugby under their belts going into this campaign which enables them to start piecing their rugby experiences together. This is now starting to show in their performances on the pitch as they are growing in confidence every game.”
“I’ve been really impressed with the attitude of everyone in the squad and having so much inner competition throughout the club has caused lots of positive headaches for us as coaches. We’ll continue to learn, develop and grow as a group and I’m excited for what the rest of the season and beyond holds.”