Category: women

Sapphire Tournament: Oxford Hosts Round 3 This Saturday

On Saturday 25th March, the Oxford Saints are hosting round 3 of the 2017 Sapphire Series Tournament

UPDATE: Unfortunately the Iceni Spears have had to withdraw from Saturday’s tournament

Playing their inaugural season of contact football, the Oxford Saints Women currently have 2 wins and 2 losses in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Picking up wins against the Iceni Spears and the Peterborough Royals, whilst taking defeats from the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts and Wembley Stallions.

With the usual home of the Oxford Saints unavailable (Tilsley Park), the event will be taking place at the excellent Harwell Science & Innovation Campus.

TIMES

Set 1 = 13:00
Set 2 = 14:00
Set 3 = 15:00
End of Tournament = 16:00

Address

Sports Pavilion
Thompson Avenue
Harwell Science and Innovation Campus
Didcot
OX11 0QB

Photo by P&M Photography

The Saints are excited to host and support the growing number of women’s teams in the UK and we’re sure Saturday will be another great round of the tournament.

Competing on Saturday will be the Oxford Saints, Wembley Stallions, Cardiff Valkyries and Portsmouth Dreadnoughts.

Information for visiting teams

– Games are played on grass
– Changing room access from 11:00
– Field access from 12:00
– Changing rooms are not locked so all equipment should be taken outside

All visitors are required to avoid walking over the croquet and cricket pitches and to take care to avoid other sports events happening on the day.

Please enter via the Curie entrance and look for further signage to direct you to the changing facilities and playing area.

Refreshments

Food will be available from The Wandering Kitchen alongside hot drinks from Deux Chavaux Espresso.

 

Sapphire Tournament: Round 2 Recap

On Saturday 11th March, the Oxford Saints Women TRAVELED to Peterborough for Round 2 of the 2017 Sapphire Series 5 vs 5 Tournament

Following a 1-1 record in the opening round at Portsmouth, the Saints faced the Peterborough Royals and the Wembley Stallions in their next contest.

Travelling with a small team due to some injuries and absences, Oxford had around 8 healthy players who did a great job at performing on both offense and defense.

The smaller squad size meant there was less relief available on the sideline, but it awarded participating players with lots of game time and valuable experience.

Wide receiver Laura White – By P & M Photography

In the practices leading up to round 2, Head Coach Adam Baker along with Offensive Coaches Luke Fry & Tony Glover prepared the team for their next challenge.

Oxford 26 – 19 Peterborough

First up was the Peterborough Royals, another new team to Women’s Football like the Saints. As the host team, they had a number of supporters in attendance along with a larger squad size.

The Saints opened the scoring quickly with wide receiver Laura White running a reverse up the sideline and nearly the whole length of the field, bringing some Peterborough defenders over the goal line with her.

Quarterback Harriet Henshall

A small Saints squad engaged in a back and forth with the Royals during the first half, with strong running from new player Heather Bignell and under leadership from the composed quarterback Harriet Henshall.

With Bignell and McInerney posing a a constant threat, Henshall stayed cool whilst looking for receivers, often waiting until the last possible minute to release the ball to allow her teammates to find space, supported by blocking from center Lou Robbins.

Running back Heather Bignell – By P & M Photography

The Royals added a touchdown of their own but overall the Saints maintained the upper hand with a group effort from all involved. Defensive captain Megan Brown continued to be a dominant part of the unit contributing her solid tackling skills.

McInerney displayed her outstanding ability to find space and out-pursue her defenders, often changing direction in a heartbeat and sprinting the length of the field. This included a role on defense where she performed an unorthodox but very successful tackle!

Josie McIinerney – By P & M Photography

Despite carrying an injury, Bignell proved to be a cannon ball as she charged up the field with no hesitation as she smashed into the Royals. Also playing defense, she brought pressure as she rushed the Peterborough quarter back with her dangerous acceleration.

After more back and forth, the Saints had the lead in the closing minutes of the game and claimed a 25-19 win.

Megan Brown – By P & M Photography

Oxford 25 – 60 Wembley

The Saints went straight into their 2nd game with just a short break and were up against the talented Wembley Stallions, with double a squad size.

The feisty Oxford side had a good start but McInerney was taken down before she could take off. It wasn’t long before the Stallions got a score on the board but the Saints put up a fight and kept the scores low.

Josie McInerney – By P & M Photography

Both sides struggled with fumbles and possession was constantly switching. The deadlock broke when the Saints recovered a fumble for a touchdown. Stallions struck back fast with a touchdown but a holding call nullified their efforts.

Wembley found their rhythm and were quick to add 2 touchdowns to the scoreboard whilst the Saints struggled against the hungry Stallions defense. Henshall continued to stay calm in the pocket and looked for options but the girls in blue were unable to make considerable gains down the field.

Laura White tackling – By P & M Photography

Megan Brown stepped in on offense and was close to breaking out for a touchdown run before being tackled.

With Wembley maintaining control throughout the 2nd half of the game, there were still solid performances across the board with most the players playing both ways on offense and defense.

The Saints added another score when Henshall connected with McInerney who made her away across the field and up the sideline with speed that the Stallions couldn’t match.

The game finished with a decisive victory for Wembley but the Saints are pleased that they stayed tough throughout the game and added 4 of their own scores.

Comment from Head Coach

The women showed real grit and toughness. We played well for a team in which every player played both sides of the ball. I am excited to expand the squad and see what we can do with a larger team and the future of the Saints is to become a contender. I am proud of our 2-2 record for now but i can see a brighter future – Head Coach Adam Baker

By P & M Photography

MVPS

– Megan Brown Defense MVP
– Heather Bignell Offense MVP
– Josie McInerney Team MVP

Next Round

The Saints are hosting round 3 of the Sapphire Tournament on Saturday 25th March. More details coming soon.

Saints Women Claim Their First Win | Sapphire Tournament Update

Saints Women Claimed their first victory in round 1 of the Sapphire Series

On Saturday 25th February, the newly formed Oxford Saints Women’s team traveled to Portsmouth for their first encounter with full contact football. .

The Saints played two games, the first being against the Iceni Spears. The Saints made big plays with quarterback Harriet Henshall and running back Josie McInerney, resulted in the Saints taking an 18-14 victory.

With this game being between two of the smaller teams at the tournament, most players on the field played on offense and defense, making it a tricky game for both teams. However, with a well drilled Saints defense and the Iceni receivers not quite getting to where they needed to be, the Saints earned their first win and were rewarded with massive confidence boost.

The Saints stayed focused in the break between games, running routes and getting feedback from their coaches for the performance against the Spears. The Saints were confident going into the second game against the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts, despite their opponent having about 25 more players.

Unfortunately the Dreadnoughts came out with a bang and ended up putting some early points on the scoreboard. Despite their best efforts, the Saints were not able to recover and conceded a 43-0 loss. 

A mixed day for the Saints but an invaluable learning experience and a great achievement to get a win in their first contact game. Josie McInerney was named the Offensive MVP for her performance. The Defensive MVP award was giving to the entire defense unit and Team MVP went to Megan Brown.

ROUND 2

The Saints have been working hard to develop their skills and prepare for the 2nd round of the tournament, which takes place on Saturday 11th March in Peterborough.

Head coach Adam Baker and Offensive Coordinator Luke Fry have studied the game film from round 1 and helped player pinpoint key areas for improvements. In the build up to round 2, work has been very playbook orientated, whilst ensuring players are capable of taking on roles on both offense and defense.

To help further, the coaches have increased the amount of time at practice given to full contact scrimmage, allowing the players to practice game scenarios. Additional sessions for the offense and lots of tackling drills were also included. 

The Saints will go into the next games optimistic and excited to display their hard work.

Set 1: Portsmouth v Iceni + Oxford v Peterborough (13:00 PM)
Set 2: Wembley v Oxford (14:00 PM)
Set 3: Peterborough v Portsmouth + Iceni v Wembley (15:00 PM)

Oxford Saints Women Receive Sport England Grant

Huge boost for the Oxford Saints Women’s Team

The Oxford Saints are excited to announce that the club has been successful in securing a grant for the women’s team.

Following a detailed application process, Sport England has awarded the sum of £8,440 to the team which was founded in May 2016.

The grant money will be used for helmets, shoulder pads, uniforms and other training equipment to help them develop and prepare for their first contact tournament.

Club chairman Graeme Taylor said:

“We are delighted that we have been awarded a Sport England Small Grant! We have been very fortunate to have such a great group of ladies come together and join the Saints family, and securing the funding needed to get them started with contact football is a just reward for all of their efforts.”

“We are looking forward to getting the team kitted out and can’t wait to see them in their first Sapphire Series tournament!”

Women’s Rookie Session – Monday 7th November

Come try American Football with the Oxford Saints Women’s Team

The Saints Women started this year and are currently recruiting new players. Women’s American Football in the UK is growing at a very fast rate, with new teams being formed and hundreds of players across the country showing what they can do.

Come down to our rookie session at Wheatley Rugby Club on Monday 7th November and try your hand at a new and exciting sport that is growing rapidly. We are the only dedicated women’s team in Oxford, and ready to expand.

– Wheatley Rugby Club
– Oxford – OX33 1QL
– Arrive for 19:00

We don’t require any previous playing experience to join. Our coaching team are dedicated on developing new players, and there are positions to suit everyone.

Come with plenty of water, studs and mouthguards if you have them. Open to ages 17+.

 

Chairman Peart: Update on Women’s Team

Club Chairman Andrew Peart gives us an update of the growing Women’s team:

Throughout the Oxford Saints organisation we’re working hard to develop a culture of optimism, ambition, motivation and a strong desire to push the boundaries of what we can strive for, both on and off the field.

The men’s team has started the 2016 season in great shape, albeit safe in the knowledge that we remain a long way from achieving the standards we set for ourselves.

Despite the talented roster, experienced coaches, fantastic new playing facilities and a growing fan base, we still felt there was more we could do to bring exposure and enjoyment of the sport to a wider audience. Key to this was the development of a women’s team.

Sounds simple, right?

Sadly, all too often the motivation to do something such as this is quickly defeated by lack of resource, lack of help, lack of guidance and perhaps most importantly, lack of players. We’ve since discovered that these elements, and more besides, are needed if an ambitious plan can be turned into a successful, sustainable reality.

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Step forward, some really brilliant people! Brilliant people have been the reason why this new endeavour has got off to such a fast and encouraging start. The Witney Angels is a local women’s rugby team that has, as we’ve since discovered, an abundance of brilliant people.

When several of their players contacted us about the possibility of starting a women’s football team, we were very keen to help. When the sheer levels of enthusiasm of players like Josie Mcinerney, Bonnie May Bickford & Laura Weiss also became apparent, we were even more keen.

When it then became clear that there were many more like them with equal levels of crazy enthusiasm, we moved beyond keen & into the realms of subtle delirium.

Checking back to our list of necessary elements, we now had the players. As a club, we could provide the motivation to get it started & could help with the resources. Putting all this together meant we were able to host a taster session at our home ground of Tilsley park.

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The event was a great success, notably due to amount of players (around twenty eight), the outstanding raw ability of the players (this helps!) and most importantly, how much the players and coaches enjoyed the experience.

Next on the list was the need for help & guidance from those who know the women’s game better than we do..

Step forward some more brilliant people. We simply couldn’t have got this off the ground without the advice and support from Jim Messenger and BAFA. Jim has been a constant source of help and guidance from the beginning.

After hearing about the successful taster session, within a week Jim had a foundation event organised for the new players. Jim, Luke Plastow & GB women players Phoebe Schecter, Jo Kilby, Michelle Gwynne, Nena Killick & Ruth Matta all attended & were a big inspiration to the players.

We’re under no illusions as to the amount of time, effort & travel these (equally brilliant) people put into it & we owe them all a great deal.

We’re fully aware that this is just the start for the Oxford Saints Women’s team. Our challenge now is to harness the players enthusiasm, do justice to the support we’ve received from BAFA, and work as hard as we can to bring this game to as many people as possible.

When were you first aware of American Football & what made you approach the Saints?

Josie:

As someone who tends to be drawn to sports that aren’t traditionally female dominated, American Football has been on my radar for a while so it was never going to be too long before curiosity got the better of me.

I approached the Saints because they looked professional, were Oxford based and seemed keen on developing new players.

Bonnie:

I was only aware very recently that women could play American Football in this country, when Josie told me I was so excited and keen to get started!

What were your impressions of the first couple of sessions?
JOSIE:

My first impression of the initial sessions were that they were really well organised and run. To turn up to a brand new team who have little to no experience in the sport and have 6 or 7 dedicated coaches putting their all into training is pretty special.

The drills were focused and we were made to feel like a team from the start by giving us shirts and bringing us together with lots of football shouting and high fives!

BONNIE:

I have been really impressed with the support we have received from the Saints men’s team also the GB players and coaches. They were as passionate as us about creating Oxfords first woman’s team.

The first couple of sessions were very organised and the facilities were great.

The coaches helped us to discover our strengths very quickly and helped with deciding which positions you would be best suited to.

We have been impressed with the interest shown so far, especially as this is a very recent set up.

The warm ups are fun, having different stations to learn new skills has been inspiring.

The best part is always at the end when we get the chance to test our new skills learnt and put it all together for some game time.

With some more coaching I hope to become a good, strong talented player and a strong asset to the team.

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What are your hopes for both your own playing development & the Saints women’s team more generally?
JOSIE:

Firstly, I hope the Oxford Saints Women will be a pivotal team in UK women’s football. There are other big teams in the country but I’d love to see the Saints dominate the Sapphire series and start playing 11 a side.

Obviously, if more students join and Cambridge can get their act together then there may also be the opportunity to win a few varsity matches following in the footsteps of the Lancers!

Personally, I’d like to develop my game with the aim of playing for GB. It feels like women’s football is on the cusp of something very exciting so getting stuck in now is an opportunity that I’m going to work hard not to waste.

Right now, learning the playbook would probably be a good start!

BONNIE:

I aim to continue encouraging more woman to participate to help create a strong team.

We are looking forward to taking part in some tournaments and representing the Oxford Saints team.

We aim to be a successful team with plenty of wins so we can be proud of what we have created and to make the guys proud we are a part of their team.


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What message would you give to any prospective women who may be interested in playing?
JOSIE:

Anyone can play as long as you are willing to give it a go, won’t worry about getting things wrong at the start and want to be part of a team.

Unlike a lot of sports, football seems to have a position for everyone, regardless of whether you are tall, small, fast, slow or can’t even catch the ball….!

The existing Saints have been enormously supportive and welcoming so if you’re thinking of joining then do, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll make a bunch of new friends.

BONNIE:

I would like to say to any prospective women out there thinking of joining, do not be shy come and give it a go.

Even if you are unsure on the rules or what position you may be good at. We are all at different fitness levels with varied skill sets. The coaches will guide you every step of the way.

All of the girls are friendly. The coaches are very helpful and willing to teach, even if it is your first experience of American football.

It’s fantastic to be a part of such a newly forming team. The training is fun and great fitness.

The opportunities are endless. Take the first step and join us in a Tuesday. We are all very welcoming and sure you will find it a very positive experience.