The Player Development programme for girls has been growing significantly since 2015 within the age grade rugby system throughout the province.

With a recent surge in numbers of girls playing throughout the five areas in Leinster Rugby (North East, South East, Metro, Midlands and North Midlands) we noticed the need to develop a more detailed programme for the girls game.

Give It A Try programmes (GIAT) within clubs, supported by the work of the women’s development department, have really driven the appetite and participation to play.

From the growth in the U-18 girls programme, we are now in a position to mirror the male programmes in five training venues throughout Leinster each Monday night.

Players are selected from three year groups and nominated from trials during the mid-term as well as match observations from coach development staff, community staff and recommendations from volunteer coaches.

Their training is organised and planned by a Coach and Player Development Officer in each region and support coaches from the club and school game help with the coaching each week.

Athletic development coaches are also in place to support the players physical development alongside some nutritional support virtually.

The area girls player development programme is Leinster’s way of challenging the players in a safe coaching environment to be the best they can be.

This year’s Halloween mid-term break, when players are off school, will see the first Sarah Robinson Cup competition with four area teams playing against each other, kicking off next Tuesday, 26 October, in Energia Park.

Players in these inter-area games will be observed and identified to go forward at the end of, and throughout, the season to the Leinster 7-a-side competitions and the Leinster U-18 girls squad that train throughout the summer in preparation for the yearly interprovincial series.

More recently a number of the players have been identified and selected at national level in both the Sevens and XVs versions of the game.

Declan O’Brien, Leinster Rugby Coach and Player Development Manager said, “It’s fantastic after years of graft and hard work from volunteers and development staff to finally push forward with an annual inter-area U-18 competition for the female game.”

“Many hours of unseen preparation and planning have been put in by the Domestic Rugby department throughout Leinster in reaching this stage and I believe that we are only just seeing a snapshot now of the possibilities and potential throughout the province.

“The recent success and quality performances of our Leinster U-18 representative squad in the Interprovincial Championship is a true reflection of the depth and systems that we have in place in Leinster currently.”

Leinster Rugby Lead Women’s Development Officer, Jennie Bagnall, commented, “It’s so exciting that we have finally reached a stage where we are able to run a sustainable player development competition for girls at U-18 level.

“With the huge increase in participation over the last five years, each Leinster region now has enough girls playing rugby to field a high quality squad selected from the local clubs and schools.

“To have the Robinson family’s permission to name this competition after their daughter, Sarah, who was a hugely committed club and school player and promising young coach also really means a lot.”