<strong><em>At least eight women's rugby teams from the West Indies and North America participated in the International Rugby Board's (IRB) World Cup Sevens' Qualifier hosted two weeks ago by the Bahamas Rugby and Football Union (BRFU) at the Winton Rugby Pitch. Notably, the host country was not represented by a woman's team.</em></strong>

However, immediately following the qualifier the BRFU decided to put more emphasis on its women's program and hired national development coach Margaret Dixon to spearhead it.

As a level one English rugby coach, Dixon outlined plans to re-introduce the sport to high school girls. She aspires to help females realize their dreams through local then international rugby team participation.

She said: <blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" alt="" /> "A program is already in place as some of the players from the existing clubs recruited girls to create teams. Now we need those same people to take us back into the schools. This would put us (development officers) in a position to make rugby presentations to the schools. From that point we will invite interested girls from the schools or women in general to make up teams within the BRF." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" alt="" /></p></blockquote>

Ground work for a women's rugby program was initiated in April of 2006 by former Sevens' national coach Stephen Thompson. At the time Thompson and his national team assistants were able to field girls teams from St. Augustine's College, C.R. Walker and C.V. Bethel.

One of the junior girls' assistants in 2006 was current Sevens' national team member, Kevin Salabie. He conducted training sessions at the schools for several weeks leading up to an exhibition match against a U.S. based team played at the Winton Rugby Pitch two years ago.

In the end the girls were defeated, but were nonetheless encouraged according to one of the players, Oranique Hamilton, who is now a senior at St. Augustine's College.

Hamilton said: <blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" alt="" /> "I expect to gain coordination, get hurt while playing and attain a college scholarship. It's a rough sport, you must have speed and you can't be a person who gets angry easily, you must leave everything on the field." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" alt="" /></p></blockquote>

Zhorrah Grant, daughter of Class of 2008 National Sports Hall of Famer Tom 'The Bird' Grant, is prime example of how Bahamian women can excel in the sport of rugby. Attending Rothesay Netherwood School in New Brunswick, Canada on a rugby scholarship, she won the Most Improved Player and the Most Valuable Player awards in her first two years.
Dixon also addressed stigmas attached to women's rugby as it is considered a masculine sport.

<blockquote><p><img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/start_quote_rb.gif" align="texttop" alt="" /> "The stigma is based on the fact that men consider rugby a male sport," Dixon explained. "However, women take very well to this game and have a different approach when it comes to playing it. They play rugby much more strategically than men.

"Women are more apt to avoiding hard hits but at the same time find intelligent ways to make tries. The West Indies has great potential to excel in women's rugby. If women's teams can overcome the stigma, become established and successful in the Cayman Islands, Guyana and Jamaica then we can do it here." <img src="http://www.bigblogmedia.com/images/end_quote_rb.gif" align="absbottom" alt="" /></p></blockquote>

Dixon further noted that she is in dialogue with other West Indies' women's rugby coaches whom she met at the recent IRB World Cup Sevens Qualifier.

Source: <a href="http://www.thenassauguardian.com/sports/316408483114427.php">Dahalia Smith, Nassau Guardian</a>