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Promotion to Premiership would mean ‘everything’, says Garioch Ladies RFC captain

Garioch Ladies RFC team photo. Photo by Gareth Falls.
Garioch Ladies RFC team photo. Photo by Gareth Falls.

Garioch Ladies RFC are just one game away from being promoted to the Tennents Premiership, the highest level of women’s rugby in Scotland.

Garioch finished the National League Division 1 season at the top of the table with 53 points, winning ten games and drawing and losing one.

Only three points behind them in second sit Stewartry Sirens who they will play on Sunday in the Premiership play-off, with the winner being promoted to the top flight of domestic rugby.

It will be the first time that Garioch have played in a play-off with the chance of promotion, having played in the National Division 1 for three years with second and third-place finishes.

Long-serving Garioch captain Jess Silcocks reckons promotion would be the cherry on top of a successful season.

“It would mean everything to me. I’ve been captain for almost five years and this was always the goal,” Silcocks explained.

“So, if I can help get them to the Premiership then it would be perfect.

“This by far has been my favourite season.

“There have been a lot of new players, and we’ve had more focus and drive.

“This seems to be what the girls want and everything is just more intense, it’s just been such good quality rugby.”

Garioch Ladies RFC captain Jess Silcocks

The club has grown considerably in recent years having consolidated a ‘performance’ team and a second-string that provides opportunities for social players.

And Silcocks thinks the progress they have made puts them in an even better position in their bid to play at the highest level.

She said: “We’ve spent years building towards it, and we’re very aware that we want to provide rugby at every level in the north-east.

“We want to be able to support those who want to play at the highest level, but also support those who want to play for fun.

“The last couple years have been about making Garioch a club not just one team, but I don’t think you can do that and improve if you don’t have the support behind you.

“We’re really lucky and the club invest in us already. They’re very invested in what we do.

“The step up if we’re promoted will be huge, but it’s the challenge that will see us improve.

“I’m under no illusions that it would be easy.”

Stewartry challenge

In Stewartry they will face a team they have beaten twice already this season, but the Garioch captain believes those past results will be irrelevant come Sunday.

“It’s going to be an all or nothing game,” Silcocks added.

“Stewartry are an excellent team and both times we played them this season have been incredibly close games.

“It could very much go one way or the other.”

Garioch Ladies RFC, right, and Stewartry Sirens have already played twice this season, with both games going in Garioch’s favour. Picture supplied by Gareth Falls, Garioch Ladies RFC.

In their promotion bid, Garioch will have come full circle with their first ever fixture as  part of Scottish Rugby was against this weekend’s play-off opponents.

Silcocks added: “It’s a funny one because our first every fixture ten years ago was against Stewartry so it feels like a bit of a grudge match which makes it even more exciting.

“But our scores throughout the years, they were better than us for a few seasons and it’s always a tight contest, so the two scores from this season won’t reflect the game at all.”

Local impact

If Garioch beat Stewartry and achieve promotion, they will be the only team in the north to play in the Premiership.

The teams currently in that league all come from the central belt, with most situated in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

Silcocks believes promotion could help progress the women’s game in the north at all levels.

She explained: “It gives women locally to play at the best level.

“It’s a community up here, we have to work together and we put players out to other local teams and that’s exactly how it should be.

“It’s all about being able to play rugby and playing to the highest standard that you want to.

“It really boils me that people think that they have to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow to be seen or to get the best experiences, whereas hopefully we will be able to offer that up here.”

Garioch Ladies’ play-off match against Stewartry kicks off at 2pm on Sunday at Kellands Park, Inverurie, with fans welcome to attend.

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