This comes on the back of a hugely successful first half of the season, with the U15 team winning two tournaments and scoring over 200 points while conceding only a single try, the U18s finishing runners-up at both the Essex and Middlesex festivals, and the new U12 programme resulting in the county hosting the country's first ever inter-county tournament for the age group.
The grant will be used to provide playing kit and training resources for the teams, and will also allow the county to promote the game more widely, especially to girls already playing mini-rugby who will not be aware how they can stay in the game after their twelfth birthdays. At present most rugby clubs in the county have girls playing in their junior sides, but very few stay in the game once boys' and girls' rugby divides – tackling this loss of talent is a key aim of the county's Women's and Girls' Group.
The money is coming from the Local Network Fund, an initiative resulting from the Government's Every Child Matters Strategy which aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people. The fund, administered locally by the Hertfordshire Community Foundation, enables local voluntary and community groups to develop projects and activities for young people with limited opportunities or access to services.
Girls' rugby fits firmly within this as at present, despite over thirty clubs offering teenage boys the opportunity to play rugby, only four clubs in the county play regular girls fixtures. Rugby is a unique game, offering opportunities for players of a wide range of sizes and athletic backgrounds to work together as a team – it builds self-confidence and self-esteem which those involved in running girls' rugby in the county want to make available to as many players as possible. The Local Network grant is a big step forward in making this happen.