Weekend To Come & Training With England

As hinted in ickledot's last post, there's a huge county weekend coming up with both of Yorkshire's senior sides in action in crucial games. Saturday brings a drive east to the home of Hull Ionians where the county's men take on Eastern Counties. Two victories out of two for the white rose but unfortunately no bonus points. Rivals Lancashire, in another section, are also unbeaten but with some of those golden bonus points. So progress to a final demands a little more than a win. Won't go into the details here but let's just hope for the best.

ickledot was present for Yorkshire Women's previous two games so if you've followed this blog you'll know that a win on Sunday in their semi-final will take them to Richmond Rugby Club in West London for a grand final. It's a drive west on Sunday as the opponents and the potential stumbling block in progressing to the final is no other than Lancashire.

However, before all that happens I have to tell you about one of the best photographing experiences ever. Last Tuesday ickledot was given the opportunity to photograph the England Women's rugby squad.

I pause for a moment to let that sink in. England. The England squad! Who'd have thought it?

They were having a training session at Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire (cannot thank the people there enough for their friendliness and helping me find my way about their campus). A number of volunteers working in women and girls' rugby in the county were invited, to meet together, have lunch and then watch and have a chat with the players, and ickledot was there to photograph the session.

This was taken by England coach Simon Middleton (below) and his staff. It involved many different activities both with and without the ball and lasted for just over an hour.

It was pretty intensive both physically and mentally and the players were putting in a great deal of effort. There was also quite a lot of smiling too so it was enjoyable in a masochistic sort of way. The weather wasn't great; windy, cloudy with occasional showers but still quite bright.

You know how it is when you're watching people who are at the very top of whatever they do? Could be music, art or any other occupation. They do what everyone else does, but faster, smoother and seemingly without effort. So it was for much of this session, particularly when they began to play the game. It was a joy to see and obviously a great inspiration for those volunteers watching, along with the increasing number of women and girls who are taking up the sport. Big thanks to everyone concerned.

I've already posted a few pictures from the session on Flickr and Instagram so have included a few different ones here.

There are more which I'll release in coming days. Have a great weekend!