Topaz round 1
We always knew that it would be tough taking on two established 7’s team right at the start of our journey. However, anyone that has been following the Valkyries will know we love a challenge! We had a couple of players getting their first ever contact experience and others playing out of position but they all stuck to their tasks really well and developed through the day amazingly. It was great to get that experience of just what 7’s is all about
We went into the day with the aim to focus on some particular things and so it was great how the coaches from the other teams were open to structuring the day to allow teams to get what they needed from it. Really allowed us to focus on a core set of plays – especially on offence.
First up against Leeds was always going to be tough. Sure enough their running game proved to be strong and caused us problems as players got used to different formations and views. However, the team stuck to their task really well and it was great to see the understanding of what they needed to do their and getting into the right places to make plays.
On Offence, we were looking to really work the passing game and get a lot of work in pass protection done. With Leeds employing lots of different looks, it was invaluable experience or our new players up front to go against that. Many thanks go out to Jim and Connor for also lending support and helping coaching them up further on the day. They looked like a different unit by the end of it and were really starting to pick up the different blitzes by the end.
By the time we played Derby, confidence was growing as they began to really settle into the feel of the game. Both the defence and offence stepped up again and were very competitive against another strong Derby side. Some big hits on D and some great passing on O led to a really positive performance.
For those who have experienced Sapphire Series in the 5s format this was definitely a step up, however, for those completely new to the team this was a whole new experience altogether! Here are some of what the rookies had to say about the day:
Jam: Right Guard
I joined the Valkyries as I wanted to get involved in some sort of contact sport but was too nervous to join a sports team where everyone already knew the rules and I would be the only newbie. The rookie day gave me the chance to not be by myself at day 1. I had no idea what to expect but I ended up having so much fun with the most welcoming group of girls (and coaches). When I learnt about topaz the fear of the unknown returned and I was so nervous that I wouldn’t know what was going on and would make a mockery of myself but it turned out to be a great experience and introduction to the game. I definitely did spend a lot of time wondering what was happening but everyone was massively supportive and I took a lot away from the day. My confidence to ask questions about the game and lean on the other players for guidance has increased thanks to Topaz. I’m no longer worried about Sapphire Series, I just want to do my best, have fun and make the most of the experience with my team mates.
Ceri: Linebacker/Running Back
I first heard about Cardiff Valkyries from their Facebook event about a Rookie day in August. One of the rugby girls I play with said she was going to go and I’ve always wanted to try it so thought I’d come along as well. Unfortunately my team mate didn’t show up but I still went along and instantly fell in love with the sport. I was initially quite nervous about Topaz as I had never tackled in full kit before. Putting on all the kit was quite daunting but as soon as we started it was brilliant! I went from not having a clue what to do at the start of the day to feeling incredibly confident by the end. I tried playing both line-backer and running back. I initially thought I’d be a defence player but after playing the two positions I found I quite enjoyed running back and powering through people. I can’t wait for our next scrimmage now!
Claire: Right Guard
So far it has been AMAZING! I was so anxious last week about my fitness and strength and I was so desperate not to let the team down, I’d been having nightmares all week beforehand. The session itself was just awesome. It’s probably quite self indulgent, but I’m really proud of what I did. Having the feedback from Jim and Connor too was an invaluable tool, there was a lot to take on board but I’m confident we are going to have the most amazing o-line. I am so excited for the sapphire series and the chance to play in a real competitive environment, it’s going to be so much fun! After Derby I feel closer to the team, like I’ve been baptised now and am a real Valkyrie, I just hope I keep focus in St Albans and don’t let the team down.
For us, days like this are invaluable and it was so rewarding to see the growth in the players from start to finish. There is a lot to build on and we can’t wait to get down to Herts on the 25th to go again!
We are still open for new players to join at any time. If you think it’s for you, just get in touch!