Pulborough under-18 girls crowned national champions

Pulborough RFC under-18 final winners
Pulborough RFC under-18 final winners

Pulborough’s under-18 girls were crowned national champions of England on Sunday as they overcame Worcester in the prestigious final.

It caps a remarkable journey for the team as just four years ago, a small group of players began the first training session of the newly formed Pulborough girls’ section.

A couple of those players were part of the squad that made the trip to Banbury to play in the final of the RFU Cup.

The under-18s form part of what is now a thriving girls’ section at Pulborough with nearly 80 girls playing across the different age groups from under-11 upwards.

It was the climax of a highly successful season where they have won 14 out of the 16 fixtures to date and only suffered the one defeat in a friendly.

Five players have also been selected for the South East of England, Jordan Hopkins, Louisa Ward and Charlotte Williams and Aliyah Butterfield and Lauren Fisher from the under-15s, as well as Jess Breach, for England under-20, having made her debut against the Army earlier this season.

The team took a substantial following up to Banbury with the best part of 100 supporters to cheer them on including players from the younger age groups.

The girls were soon in front through an opportunistic try by Jess Breach after a handling error by Worcester. Sarah Cornforth converted to give ‘Boro a 7-0 lead.

Despite ‘Boro being on top in the set scrums, Worcester fought back and were able to spread the ball to their pacey wingers to give them a half-time lead of 15-7.

Two more Jess Breach tries followed, both converted but Worcester were not prepared to give in just yet and another try from their wing meant it was 21-20 to ‘Boro as the game moved into its final 10 minutes.

Issy Mayhew scored to extend Boro’s lead to 26-20. They soon followed this with a superb backs move and a perfectly timed offload put Breach free to score her fourth try and ease some of the tension on the touchlines.

There was just time for another opportunist try from Breach with the final play to give Boro a 36-20 win.

Coach John Breach said: “This is a day the girls will remember for the rest of their lives.”

The girls returned to a hero’s welcome at the club and president Alex Steele described the performance as “A truly magnificent result and perfect way to mark the end of the season.”

The girls were delighted and described the result as ‘meaning the world to them for sharing such an amazing experience with such incredible players and friends’ and ‘the best end to an incredible season.’