MEET Henley’s own invincibles.The Henley Hawks women’s rugby team have won the championship after winning every game this season.
They beat Supermarine Ladies 27-5 at their Regatta Meadows ground to claim their 14th victory of the campaign so far and secure the RFUW Championship South West 2.
The women will now try to defend their 100 per cent record for the final two matches of the season before facing a play-off match to decide whether they are promoted.
Head coach Alistair Mortimore said: “We will celebrate this but we can’t do it yet. We haven’t gone up and this is just the first step.
“It’s fantastic that we’ve gone this far without losing but we’ve got to keep going until the end of the season.”
The team have also reached the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup after beating Hammersmith and Fulham in the quarter-final played in London at the weekend.
Mr Mortimore a former Hawks player who is in his second term as head coach, hopes the team’s success will help recruit players. The club has more than 30 at the moment and is considering launching a girls’ team.
He said: “I like the women’s game. It’s not as political and they play in a way that I like the game to be played. It’s a sport that’s growing in terms of popularity and I can see the differences in the girls as they grow.”
The Hawks’ biggest league win was a 65-0 victory over Reading Ladies last month.
Their opposition in the play-off, which is scheduled for April 6, is yet to be decided but the Hawks have already beaten one of the contenders, Blackheath Ladies, 22-5.
Captain Tina Simpson, 39, a flanker, was one of five players who were in the team when they last won the title in 2010.
She said: “We’ve all pulled together as a team, which is really positive. We got better and fitter each game and our backs and forwards have worked well together.
“We play quite fast rugby where we secure the ball and get it out quickly. We like a running game.”
Ms Simpson, a teacher who lives in Reading, said the foundations for the team’s success were built last season after bouncing back from losing the first couple of matches.She said: “Some games have been tougher than others but none of them is easy. We want to go up in the play-offs now and then build on our squad.”
Vice-captain and fly-half Carly Dudding, 25, of Fair Mile, Henley, said the team had been developing for several seasons.
“It’s great to have an unbeaten season,” she said. “We had the focus from the start. Everyone knew what we were aiming for.” She said she was happy to follow in the footsteps of the men’s first team, who won National League 2 South last season under the management of her father Nigel.
Ms Dudding added: “There’s a really positive vibe around the club at the moment.”
The top try scorer this season with 26 is open-side flanker Amy Atkinson, a teacher who lives in Abingdon. She tried out for the British bobsleigh team and appeared on the BBC’s Total Wipeout.
The second top try scorer with 18 is full-back Elizabeth Hearn, a teacher who lives in Reading. She has represented England at junior level.
The squad comprises about 30 players as follows:
Forwards: Bobbie Barrett, Sarah Adams, Kerry Stacey, Mel Mckenzie, Rachael McDonnell, Bex Woodgate, Kelly-Anne Ferguson, Cerri Walsh, Rosie Lester, Victoria Wheeler, Alison Beech, Tina Simpson, Amy Atkinson, Katy Wysocki-Jones, Emily Price, Olivia Cooke, Nikitta Flynn, Jenni Balmer, Ann Tivey and Pip Timmins.
Backs: Carly Dudding, Eleanor Forbes, Yaz Lathbury-Haig, Bethan Lynch, Louise Carr, Ann-Marie Solowin, Katy Scott, Lauren Miller, Joanna Wells, Rachel Parry, Lucy Carr, Nicki Gross, Elizabeth Hearn, Laura Mitchison and Charlotte Sealey.
The coaches are Alistair Mortimore and Henry Day and the physio is Adam Dobson.