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Posted: 20th December 2021

Jorja Battishill – Ulster U18 Rugby

Before June 2021 I had been playing U18 club rugby for Malone in Belfast, at the end of the rugby season I was selected by the head Coach Joe Mcallister to attend trials for Ulster. During the three weeks of initial trials we were put through various skills challenges and fitness tests. Fortunately I was selected and then went onto several weeks of Ulster training in preparation for the interprovincial Games. Having trained three times a week the team was beginning to come together, the girls whom I had been playing against for most of the season from other clubs were now my friends and teammates.

The first game was supposed to be against Munster, but CV19 had caused the match to be drawn and it was postponed to a later date as a friendly and not as an Interpro match. Therefore, our first game was against Leinster at St Mary’s College RFC in Dublin. Unfortunately we were beaten by the better team on this occasion but for the majority of the girls and including myself this was our first 15 aside match. As a team we had learnt so much from this game, the coaches then worked on the skills we needed to improve for the next match against Connaught. During this game I made some big tackles, carried and scrummaged well, I was also good in the lineouts.

The second Game was against Connaught at MU Barnhall in Dublin. The hard work, determination and effort put in during training payed off, with a thrilling win 12-5. My fellow club teammate and friend scored a try, after I stole a ball at the lineout. It was a brilliant performance by the team, and again I made big tackles, carried well and won lineouts, as a team we scrummaged and were dominant in the rucks. The win lifted the team’s spirit for the end of the Interpro series. Ulster U’18 came second in the series. The coaches did an absolutely amazing job, getting us to this point.

The third game was a friendly but was still contested fiercely against Munster. The hard work and effort put in payed off once again with a 19-15 win. At half time it was 10-0 to Munster, but we came back strongly in the second half. The girls showed so much passion and determination and we definitely displayed the skills and fitness that had been taught through the second half. I had scored a try by showing a dummy and ran a good length of the pitch.

At the end of the season we were asked to attend the Nevin Spence theatre at the Kingspan stadium to receive our playing shirts. This was a great night, and we were even given free tickets to watch Ulster play Northampton in the European Cup. A great night all round as Ulster Won 27-22.

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