Ripon girls move one step closer to England rugby dream

Two teenage rugby players from Ripon are one step closer to their dream of playing for England’s women’s team after being talent-spotted as among the best in Yorkshire.
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Ripon Grammar School students Edie Cooper and Eden Hymas took part in a series of gruelling selection days, when 150 of the county’s top U18 players competing for a place were whittled down to a final 22.

The elite 22, all Year 12 students, now join the thirteen Year 13 girls in Yorkshire’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) squad, which aims to support the finest in the county.

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The year-long programme was established in 2021 for girls who have the potential to develop and progress through the England Rugby development pathway.

Pictured: Edie Cooper and Eden HymasPictured: Edie Cooper and Eden Hymas
Pictured: Edie Cooper and Eden Hymas

Eden, 16, from Ripon, who spends up to eight hours a week on her sport, said: “The trials were very competitive, you really felt the pressure due to the fact you knew you were constantly being observed.”

A winger and full back, she first took up rugby when she was seven years old, following her older brother into the sport, although gave up because there was a shortage of female players.

When she picked it up again at 13, her career stalled for a few months after she suffered a broken leg in a match against Harrogate.

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She said: “I never expected to get this far. I’m inspired by England rugby player Abby Dow due to her skill and how resilient she is, especially after her leg surgery last year.”

Pictured: Ripon Grammar girls rugby team in action.Pictured: Ripon Grammar girls rugby team in action.
Pictured: Ripon Grammar girls rugby team in action.

Edie, 16, from Sharow, began her rugby career as a seven-year-old at Ripon RUFC and has been hugely inspired by the success of the Red Roses England women’s team.

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"The Centre of Excellence is a big step up from any other squad I’ve been in, as the game and play are so much more intense and faster. But it's the right choice for me as I'd love to play for England professionally when I’m older.

“The whole process was longer than previous ones.

"After each training session an email would be sent out saying whether you got through to the next section or not, which was quite scary.”

Being on the pathway now means the girls have the chance of being seen by England scouts and players.

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