AYR have become the first Scottish club to appoint a dedicated women and girls’ development officer. Catherine Shennan has been tasked with increasing the number of women and girls involved in rugby in South Ayrshire, and is the latest in a series of exciting appointments throughout Scottish rugby aimed at raising the profile and standard of the women’s game.
Jade Konkel became Scotland’s first full-time female player in June, former Glasgow Warriors forwards coach Shade Munro was appointed head coach of the Scottish women’s rugby team last summer and Graham Shiel has been in charge of the national Sevens team since April. Meanwhile Dee Bradbury is hoping to become the first female vice-president of the Scottish Rugby Union at Saturday’s AGM.
“With Ayr Ladies about to embark on their first season in the top tier BT Premier League, and the increased awareness of the sport thanks to the inclusion of rugby 7s at the Rio Olympics, now is the ideal time for Ayr RFC to cement its commitment to growing women’s rugby in South Ayrshire,” said a statement issued by Ayr.
Shennan first began playing rugby in sixth year at Girvan Academy when the Ayr RFC development team visited the school. She soon joined Ayr Ladies U18s before progressing to the senior side, and was capped for Scotland Women U20s last season.
The 20-year-old has been a Scottish Rugby modern apprentice for the last two years.
“I will continue to use the skills I have learned as an MA when coaching women and girls this year. The courses I went on in my two years as an MA were very useful and gave me more ideas and knowledge of the game,” said Shennan. “It’s an honour to be given this opportunity. It comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s also hugely rewarding.”
Stuart Fenwick, head of development at Ayr RFC, welcomed the announcement.
“With more girls and women playing rugby in the area – not just at Ayr RFC but taking part in the South Ayrshire Schools Conference – we needed someone dedicated to developing the women’s game,” he said.
“Catherine’s training as a Scottish Rugby MA, as well as her passion and knowledge gained from playing stand-off with Ayr Ladies, mean she is the perfect candidate to encourage women of all ages and abilities to embrace the sport of rugby. “The Ayr RFC development team is very proud to have the first women and girls’ DO of any club in Scotland. It’s not only a feather in our cap, but a boost for the whole sport.”
Image courtesy of Ayr RFC