Yorkshire's three-match season was completed yesterday with a trip just across the Pennines to Burnley for an encounter with the old rivals, Lancashire. It was a warm, sunny afternoon and a good crowd of both home and away supporters turned out witness what would become a historic, landmark occasion for the White Rose county. Withstanding a phase of Lancashire pressure in the first few minutes, Yorkshire were finally able to break out, forcing over the line on the left. This seemed to stun the home side and they were knocked off their stride for much of the rest of the game. Yorkshire, on the other hand, grew in confidence and registered no less than 27 points: five tries and a conversion. Only in the final fifteen minutes did Lancashire reveal themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Three tries and three conversions in rapid succession brought them close but, thankfully for Yorkshire, the final whistle came to the rescue.
For the first time in their history the gallant women of Yorkshire have completed their season unbeaten. A remarkable feat from a team which has improved and grown in confidence with each succeeding game. A word also for the coaching team. Kerry Wood and his colleagues, through encouragement and calm words of advice, have built a formidable team. Now the breakthrough's been made, there really is no reason the county shouldn't build on this success and make it happen again. It's unfortunate that, unlike in the case of the men, the women play only three games and there isn't another stage for them to move on to in some kind of regional final. More pictures than usual, of this historic match, can be seen here.
While all this excitement was going on the men were playing just over an hour's drive away on the west coast at Fylde Rugby Club; an arrangement which made it impossible for anyone to witness both games. For several reasons, this was unfortunate and really ought not to be allowed to happen again. One can quite understand a desire to retain and protect the tradition and prestigious nature of the men's Roses match. One can also see a danger in damaging a pitch by having a second game on it in a short space of time. There's an opportunity also to give the honour of a county game to two clubs rather than one. However, it should be ensured in future that games are staggered or played on a different day so as many people as possible can see both games. One of Lancashire's team sustained an injury which necessitated the attendance of an ambulance (best wishes for a speedy recovery to her by the way). Only a few weeks ago a Yorkshire player broke a leg while training. Whatever the quality of the rugby, such levels of commitment and dedication should not be rewarded with a feeling of not being valued or respected in comparison to others.
Unfortunately Yorkshire's men were not able to replicate the result of their female counterparts, going down 29-14. Congratulations to Lancashire and good luck at Twickenham next week.