Throughout the season Sarah Lennon will keep us up to speed on the women’s game and this week she looks at the combatants in the 2012/13 AIL campaign…
The 2012/13 Women’s AIL season is about to begin and it is a case of another year, another format.
Last year the league split halfway through and became AIL 1A & 1B. This season it’s a straight run through, with every team playing each other once and the league finishing prior to the Interpro season in December. Of course this is all weather-dependant and any repeat of the winter of 2010 may see the calendar go out the window! Another difficulty is that with 8 teams in the league there will be a discrepancy with the number of home and away games, some teams having 4 home games and others only 3.
Whatever the format however, one thing remains true and that is that UL Bohemians remain the team to beat. The Limerick team won ten out of ten in the league last season with eight bonus points a formidable record. In fact they have been the team to beat over the past decade with nine out of the last ten titles winging its way to Annacotty.
The key to the UL Bohs success besides hard work, has been continuity and familiarity. The women in this team have played together for many years and also contribute as many as 10 women to the Munster side as well as six to the Irish side. There was one chink in the armour last season though when Galwegians beat them on their way to winning the AIL Cup and this offers a slim glimmer of light to the chasing pack.
Leading the chase last season was Highfield from Cork and the leading Leinster light was Old Belvedere ladies. Both of these teams will be hoping to build on their respective league positions last season. Highfield will be looking to shake their perennial bridesmaids tag and Old Belvedere will be looking to continue their remarkable form in what is only their third season of top division rugby.
The rest of Leinster’s involvement in the AIL1 comes from two other Dublin sides Blackrock and St Mary’s, both sides have held recruitment drives with St Mary’s in particular joining Old Belvedere in setting up a J1 team. In AIL 2N we will be keeping an eye on Garda and Navan RFC and in Division 2S the Leinster representatives are New Ross and Portlaoise.
The AIL Division 1 kicks off this weekend with some cracking ties. Old Belvedere host Tralee who are new to the Division. Having shocked Galwegians on their debut two seasons ago, Old Belvedere will be wary of a new team looking to make a big impression. Galwegians themselves travel to Belfast to play Cooke, St Mary’s face the daunting task of travelling to the champions UL Bohemians and Blackrock take on Highfield in what would be a good early barometer of who will be likely to challenge for top spots.
Sunday is typically the day for women’s rugby in clubs with a 1pm kick off time the norm, so why not get down to support your local team. This week’s fixtures in Leinster in AIL leagues are Old Belvedere v Tralee at Anglesea Road, Blackrock v Highfield at Stradbrook, Navan v Cavan at Balreask Old as well as a full programme across Leinster Leagues 1-4
There was a programme of fixtures in Leinster League 1 again at the weekend, but for the second week running there is no information on the Leinster Domestic Website. Again with my sleuthing hat on, I have deduced the following scores. Edenderry 26 – 10 Wexford, NUIM Barnhall 0-10 Cill Dara, Rathdrum 22-0 Longford, coupled with last week’s results this sees Edenderry lead the way from Portarlington and Rathdrum on a win a piece. Early days for now and the league will start to take shape over the coming weeks.
The rest of the rugby in the AIL leagues and across the Leinster leagues begins this weekend and the very best of luck to all women taking the field.
Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.