The Swiss Rugby Federation has achieved yet another milestone in their women's rugby development programme, and for the first time ever, a swiss U16 selection team has participated in an international tournament this past weekend.
Thanks to the good connections of the ACGR within the Italian Rugby Federation, our girls were invited to participate in the Torneo U16 di Badia Polesine, a regional selection tournament for the north of Italy. We assembled a great group of 11 rugby girls born between 2000 and 2002 from across Switzerland, added in three experienced staff members, and we took on the challenge to write this first chapter of a new page in FSR history!
The adventure started with a long (yes, long...) trip from Geneva via multiple pick-up stops in direction Badia, where the Easter Traffic got the better of us and made this 7h trip into a 12h slow-motion drive. It may sound like there would be better ways to spend your Easter Friday, but our girls made the best out of this extra time in our 2 minivans and turned it into a great team bonding experience! Carefully prepared playlists and walkie talkies enriched the whole experience, and by the time we finally arrived in Italy more than ready for our pasta dinner, language borders were broken down and everyone was friends already.
After a well-deserved dinner, it was time for the serious things in the life of a rugby player, and we held a theory session followed by the shirt ceremony for the following day. Big emotions, as it was the very first time for all of these players to represent their region and country on the rugby pitch! The well-experienced coaching staff found just the right words to prepare them for a good night's sleep filled with excitement on what the next day may bring.
Everyone was more than ready to put on their boots already at breakfast on Saturday morning, and the welcome at the tournament grounds from the italian organizers was fantastic – we were the only international team participating, hence automatically an attraction.
Our girls went through a carefully prepared warm-up to get their heartbeats up and their heads in the right mindset, and very soon it was time for our first game against Veneto (2). The team started off fearless – please note that for some of them, this was their very first real rugby game ever! Veneto had brought a whole 3 teams of U16 girls along, and with so much depth in their training squad, they had skills and speed which were clearly superior to ours.
A tough first learning experience for our girls, but we were here for a whole tournament, not just a game. We analysed what had gone well, and what we would need to improve – and worked on our defensive organization for the following hour. The players clearly wanted to improve and put all feedback immediately on the field, and by the time Game 2 against Piemonte came around, we were ready to be a wall of black in front of the ball. The start was again rather fast, and Piemonte put a great show on the field – they later went on to win the whole tournament. After a big half-time speech from Coach PM, our girls started to find their inner warriors and showed a much more aggressive 2nd half.
We then only had a 20min break until the last pool game against Veneto 3, and recharged our batteries by focusing on some technical input from coach GdM to get ready for Veneto 3. Much like their rugby sisters we had faced in our first game, this team had no mercy and profited very quickly from every little mistake we made – but our warriors were woken by now. We put on a big fight, but unfortunately couldn't capitalize and had to leave the win to the Italians once again.
Three games, three losses – time for lunch and a change in atmosphere! We hadn't been able to bring home a win yet, but the improvement since the first game had already been tremendous. Thanks to a chocolate cake, our girls made friends with the Piemonte team, which broke the ice with all the italian teams, and we made lots of friends across the tournament grounds. The future champions Piemonte cheered for us for the rest of the day and added some atmosphere to our small final for 7th place.
And what a game this last game was! We played Lazio, the 4th placed of the other pool, and the tension was on from the very first second. The girls were thirsty for points, fought their hearts out, and our speedster #22 Marine Bourdois found space on the outside about 4min into the game – Trytime for Switzerland! Of course, Lazio wasn't happy with this, and responded with 2 quick tries still in the first half to take the lead only 7 minutes from the final whistle. Another big halftime speech from coach PM, and the determination was back: We had the level to win this, we had the heart to win this! In an incredible 2nd half that seemed to last at least 20 minutes, the great teamwork of all the girls opened up another 2 holes for Marine to complete her first hattrick and bring home our first win. The tension was finally released, and the smiles were huge and well-deserved.
A last highlight of the day was the announcement of another great honour we had gained throughout the day: Our U16 girls won the “Fair Play Award” of the tournament, clearly thanks to the friendly attitude towards this totally new experience and the respect they showed towards all other teams.
It was a great performance of a young group full of potential, and we can't wait to see where we will go with them in the upcoming months and years. Special thanks to the ACGR for taking the lead in organising this great weekend.
Our underage categories are developing well this year, and please note that we are looking for strong rugby girls who are keen to play our great sport all across the country! > the programme is published HERE
ALBERTONI Constance (Switzers) - Captain
ANTHONY Lauren (Switzers)
ANTHONY Rachael (Switzers)
BOURDAIS Marine (Switzers)
CORREIA RAPOSO Alexandra (Servette)
DISERENS Noémie (Monthey)
GILIBERTO Celena (Switzers)
HAUSER Amélie (La Chaux-de-Fonds)
VOLKEN Sandrine (Bern)
ZELLWEGER Joanne (Thun)
ZUMBRUNNEN Nathanja (Bern)
Headcoach: DI MARTINO Gianni (ACGR)
Assistant Coach: MOSER Philippe (ACGR)
Manager: HERRMANN Christa (FSR)