Durham Women end County Campaign with record numbers wearing the shirt

Durham Women end County Campaign with record numbers wearing the shirt


Durham County Women denied next stage of County Campaign after 40 – 5 loss to Lancashire at Darlington Rugby Club.

Clarissa Murphy Writes;

Aside from the first team score, Durham set two ‘first time ever records’ as they fielded a second team and awarded seven players their County Caps.

Pictured: Tara Breslin, Jess Cheesman, Katie Dodgson, Lydnsy Burns, Ali Bell, Steph Maddison and Ursula Hardy with caps


The hosts knew heading into the clash it was going to be the toughest fight yet with Lancashire a confident side with two strong wins on the leader board.

Kicking off the game, Lancashire went straight into their game plan shipping the ball wide at speed trailing the Durham defence across the pitch.

It was only moments into kick off that the Lancashire back line found their opening an used their speed out wide to travel from the half way line under the posts.

Lancashire continued to put same style tries on the board as the hosts defence struggled to match their numbers out wide.

After putting 15 points on the board  to nil, Durham began to apply the pressure needed to slow the Lancashire Ladies back line.

In the pack it was evident the hosts were dominant as they forced scrums back, turned ball over and  drove forward several yards in mauls.

Despite challenging the visitors as the clock ticked, the well drilled side continued to find their way past the Durham Women and over the line.

Seeing in a further four unconverted tries, the visitors had made a good 35-0 head start by half time whistle was blown.

Receiving the first kick of the game, Durham were in clear position for a run at the Lancashire side, taking it wide they crashed the ball in with a quick response to defend the ball.

Durham began working their set piece play dragging in the visitors defence.

Throughout the second half the hosting women demonstrated their fight and passion as they began to fiercely respond to the half time score.

At the break downs both sides had their fair share of quick snaps as for a period of time the ball began to change hands in a yo yo process.

Only having conceded one try throughout the second half it was clear the hosts were used to the Lancashire play and resilient to a repeat performance from the first half.

Continuing to play a forward dominated game, the pack forced the visitors onto the back foot as they crashed the line.

Following a line out in the Lancashire 22, Durham set up a maul and finally rewarded themselves a deserved five points on the board as they drove over the line together.

Despite an opposing favoured score line the atmosphere among the home team demonstrated they were proud and happy to have turned things around in the second half.

After the hosts first try they continued to put their bodies on the line to defend their 5 – 5 second half performance closing the game 40-5.

Pictured: first team after Lancashire game


Before the first team game, Durham County Women saw a second team step out and play a development game for the first time ever.

The game was an opportunity to give the numerous dedicated players a chance to display their talent and wear the County shirt.

Within the team were players from clubs such as Hartlepool Rovers of which the Women have only been playing a matter of months.

Matty Lidster, Durham County Development team Head Coach said: “It is great to see so many women getting involved in playing at representative level.

“It is a real exciting time for Women’s Rugby and Women’s Rugby in the North East.”

Pictured: Durham Development team


Durham Women closed their campaign with seven of the players being awarded their Durham County Cap for the first time ever by Secretary and Vice President John Denham.

Players were from: Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), Lydnsy Burns (Darlington RFC), Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC), Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), Steph Maddison (Sunderland Flames) Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames)

See two team sheets here

Durham County Senior Men one step closer to Twickenham

Durham County Senior Men one step closer to Twickenham


Durham County Senior Men take their tally to two from two after  a 41-14 victory over Staffordshire in the County Championship on Saturday. 

Last week, Durham Seniors opened their campaign as they welcomed Cumbria to Hartlepool Rovers in what turned out to be a one sided affair winning 62-5, while down the road, Staffordshire had lost out to Leicestershire.

John Dove, Chairman of Selectors for Durham County Senior Men said: “With Leicestershire expected to win when travelling to Cumbria it was vital that Durham came back from Lichfield with a victory.

“From this competition we look to try and emulate the County Under 20’s by reaching the final at Twickenham.”

Looking to open the game at a high tempo things could not have worked out better as in the second minute centre Fraser Wilson broke through for the opening score of the day.

Durham played with a lot of confidence and their efforts were rewarded again after just seven minutes as hooker Chris Wood took the score to 10-0.

After just 15 minutes on the clock it was a third score for Durham as Talite Vaioleti finished off some excellent approach work from Wood and Andrew Baggett.

Bagget saw the first ball between the posts to extend the lead to 17-0.

Staffordshire began to find their feet 20 minutes in as they opened their account with a converted try scored by flanker Prince.

In retaliation, Durham hit back at the hosts as Martin Hopley crossed for an unconverted try to lead 22-7.

As the game moved towards half time Staffordshire built up some pressure but it was the visitors who were to score with Wilson again finishing off the move. Baggett’s kick took the score to 29-7 in time for the half time break.

Straight back into play, the visitors proved they were not ruptured by the break as Wilson added to his tally with two tries in the 48th minute and the 60th minute with Baggett converting the second to lead 41-7.

Pictured: Fraser Wilson in action

To their credit the hosts continued to work hard and were rewarded the final score on the board in the 66th minute when a converted try left them trailing 41-14.

Dove added: “On a day when everyone gave their all, the try scoring efforts of Fraser Wilson were the icing on the cake.

“Next week we travel to Oakham to play Leicestershire in a winner takes all event.

“We will be looking to earn ourselves the trip to Twickenham for the final on Sunday, May 28.”

Team that faced Staffordshire

Durham Senior Men set for first away trip in County Championship

Durham Senior Men set for first away trip in County Championship 

Durham County Senior Men hit the road to take on Staffordshire in the County Championship on Saturday. 

Pictured: Durham Senior Men team photo 2016/2017


The game will take place at Lichifeild RFC kicking off art 2.30pm

Last week, Durham made an impressionable start to their County Championship campaign beating Cumbria 62-5 at Hartlepool Rovers.

This weeks hosts, Stafffordshire did not have as good of a start to their season losing 45 – 7 to Leicestershire.

The team to travel to Staffordshire are:

Position Name Club
15 Max Connon Blaydon
14 Martin Hopley Billingham
13 Fraser Wilson Blaydon
12 Peter Evans (C) Billingham
11 Elliott Husband Billingham
10 Andrew Baggett Blaydon
9 Dan Finney Billingham
1 Charlie Purkiss-McEndo Harrogate
2 Chris Wood DMP
3 Ben Parkinson Durham City
4 Tom Johnson Hartlepool
5 Andrew Kirton South Shields Westoe
6 Talite Vaioleti DMP
7 Dan Burns Billingham
8 Danny Dixon Billingham
16 Kieran Clark Middlesbrough
17 Tom Larder Harrogate
18 Anthony Jackson Billingham
19 Peter Youll West Hartlepool
20 Chris Wearmouth Blaydon
21 Liam Checksfield West Hartlepool
22 Ryan Foreman Blaydon


Durham Women prepare for tougest test yet as they welcome Lancashire on Sunday

Durham Women prepare for tougest test yet as they welcome Lancashire


Durham County Women welcome Lancashire this Sunday at Darlington Rugby Club for the final round of the pool games in the County Championship. 


Pictured: Durham Women after 34-5 victory over Cumbria

Clarissa Murphy writes; 

This Sunday will see a record number of women step out in the Durham County jersey as the side are set to field a development squad before the main squad game.

At the beginning of trials and training for Durham County a record number of over 50 women showed interest in playing for the side.

Due to the numbers persisting week in and week out and selection continuing to be a nail biting experience, it comes as a great reward that each dedicated player will get their chance at playing in the jersey this Sunday.

Dave Addison, Durham County Women’s Head Coach, said: “The competition for places has been really fierce and that’s very much down to the developing players really stepping up and putting pressure on the main squad.”

The development squad is made up of players from Hartlepool Rovers, a very new women’s rugby team on the scene, Sunderland University, Sunderland Flames, Acklam, Bishop Auckland and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.

Matty Lidster, Head Coach for the County Women Development squad, said: “Personally to me, it does not matter what the score is as long as we get a team out and play to the best of our ability.

“Every game is experience and that is what the development side is all about, gaining that game experience and enjoying playing.”

First team Head Coach, Addison added that he is very excited to see the development squad get out and have a game after all their hard work.

Last week, Durham played hosts to Cumbria in a victorious 34-5 match at Blaydon RFC.

Following a slow start for the hosts they came out with six tries and a team performance to be proud of.

Addison added: “I think last week we started poorly by our standards and in the first half we left a lot of points on the field, in the second half we were much better and back to ourselves.

“This week we need to step out with belief that we can produce a positive result and back ourselves 110%.”

In the last year’s meeting with Lancashire, Durham were the half time leaders and in the final ten minutes Lancashire managed to grasp a hold of the score board and steal the win from under their nose.

Training this week has given the Durham Women a chance to assess areas they need to work on and focus on how they can steer the game in their favour Sunday.

“We have worked on lots of new things in our defensive work and also our game management strategy and the players have adapted really well.” Addison said.

Lancashire are currently unbeaten having beaten Cumbria 112 – 0 in their first fixture and Northumberland 51-10 last Saturday.

Although, having secured a losing bonus point and a winning bonus point in the two Durham games, the hosts are sitting second in the Gill Burns Division One, pool one group.

This means that Sunday’s game will determine the winner of the pool as Lancashire sit a catchable four points ahead at the top of the current leader board.

Commenting on Lancashire, Addison of Sunderland Flames said: “This is the toughest test yet,- Lancashire have been on fire, easily beating Cumbria and Northumberland and will be hungry to win the competition after narrowly missing out last year.

“However, because we have picked up the bonus points we now have something to play for and we would never doubt our girls.

“It will take a momentous effort but at least we have the opportunity to go through which others do not have.

“It is a huge incentive for us and it would send out a message to the women’s rugby community about Durham’s intentions.”

The development squad game will kick start the day as they take on Lancashire development for a 1pm kick off, the first team will step out for a 2.30pm KO.

Lidster of Hartlepool Rovers added: “Being able to put out a development squad as well as a first team is a massive step forward in women’s rugby.

“It shows how much women’s rugby has grown in the past few years and it is very exciting!”

The team set to face Lancashire are: 

First team:

1.Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), 2. Emily Hunter (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 3. Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), 4. Sarah Hall (Darlington RFC), 5. Amanda Hilton (Sunderland Flames), 6. Nicole Irving (Sunderland Flames), 7. Sally Downie (Bishop Auckland), 8. Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), 9. Steph Maddison (C- Sunderland Flames), 10. Lyndsey Burns (Darlington RFC), 11. Chloe Allison (Bishop Auckland), 12. Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames), 13. Clarissa Murphy (Sunderland Flames), 14. Tara Slater (Sunderland Flames), 15. Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC).

Replacements: Leah Davies (Sunderland Flames), Suzanne Falconer (Sunderland Flames) Alex Webster (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Stonehouse (Sunderland Flames), Beth Blacklock (Durham University), Kate Byrnes (Billingham RFC) Kirsty Paterson (Sunderland Flames)

Travelling reserves: Rachael Turnbull, Caitie Smith, Emma Quinn, Catherine McCabe, Charmaine Lamb.

Development team:

1.Charmaine Lamb (Hartlepool Rovers), 2. Danni Coulton (C – Hartlepool Rovers), 3. Emma Quinn (Bishop Auckland), 4. Rachael Turnbull (Darlington RFC), 5. Natasha Kennedy (Hartlepool Rovers), 6. Abby Richardson (Hartlepool Rovers), 7. Molly Stonebank (Bishop Auckland), 8. Caitie Smith (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9. Rachel Frost (VC- Sunderland Flames), 10. Sam Lill (Acklam), 11. Sophie Nash (Sunderland Flames), 12. Zoe Short (Acklam), 13. Jayne Guillaume (Acklam), 14. Catherine Mccabe (Sunderland Flames) Kate McDermot (Sunderland Flames)

Replacements: Kiera Yorston (Sunderland Univeristy), Bethany Randerson, Kelly Thomas (Bishop Auckland), Natalie Wintersgill (Hartlepool Rovers), Claire Napier (Sunderland Flames) Becca Willett (Bishop Auckland), Kirsty Mann (Acklam), Lauren Somerville (Acklam), Lynsey Lormier (Acklam) and Claire Braham (Hartleepol Rovers).

Willers Wanderings: Durham at the top of their game with Cup finals and Twickenham finals

Willers Wanderings: Durham at the top of their game with Cup finals and Twickenham finals


Intermediate Cup Final

As the club seasons have drawn to an end, the club visits have come to a close and it is now busy times with Cup finals and representative rugby.

On Wednesday I travelled to the centre of the county to hosts of the Durham County Intermediate Cup final, Durham City.

The tie saw Gateshead take on Barnard Castle for the Cup, two familiar sides to one another following Barnard Castle’s season in Durham and Northumberland One after promotion last season.

Gateshead had the better of the first half scoring three unconverted tries without reply for a 15-0 lead at half time.

After the break, Barnard Castle came back strong pinning Gateshead down in their own half for long periods. The Barnard Castle pressure was rewarded by scoring two converted tries which brought the score to 15 – 14 with ten minutes left to play.

Three minutes from time in one of their rare excursions into the Barnard Castle half, Gateshead were awarded a penalty kick which was converted to give Gateshead a 18-14 upper hand.

Despite Barnard Castle’s last ditch attempt to get a winning score it was Gateshead that I presented the cup to after the final whistle.

Mention must be made of the large crowd for this match; it is good to see the county cups being so well supported.


Friday was travel day with the County U20s down to the home of Rugby for their County Championship Final against Yorkshire, ready to play the next day at Twickenham.

Pictured: Durham U20s after semi final win over Kent


Match day had arrived and the Durham officials and I were hosted by the Peter Baines, RFU President, John Spencer, Senior Vice President and Chris Kelly, Junior Vice president.

On the pitch before the match the RFU President, the Yorkshire President and I were introduced to the players from both sides and the match officials.

Yorkshire had the better of the first half and lead 8-0 at half time from a try and penalty kick.

Strong defence from the Durham boys meant that the only additional scores from Yorkshire was two further penalties to stretch the lead to 14-0.

Durham where developing their way into the match and with fifteen minutes left on the clock they made their first pass of the Twickenham try line with a converted try.

Continuing to persist, Durham came close on a further three occasions and it was only last ditch tackles by Yorkshire that prevented Durham from scoring.

Yorkshire hung on to the final whistle to beat the gallant Durham boys 14 – 7.

The Durham boys can be proud of their achievements playing at the top level of this championship after only gaining promotion last season.   To reach the final they had beaten Yorkshire in their only home tie and had to make long trips for both the quarter and semi-final matches.

At the post match meal and speeches I was presented with a framed photo of the Durham players and officials that had been taken to mark the occasion earlier in the day.

Pictured: Durham U20s and officals before final

Durham Senior Men make a storming start to County Championship

Durham Senior Men make a storming start to County Championship


Durham County Senior men had a flying start to their campaign winning 62-5 against visitors Cumbria at Hartlepool Rovers.

Pictured: Durham County Senior Men’s team 2016/2017


The match was the opening of the County Championship campaign for the Wearsiders and the Annual Past Presidents’ Lunch seeing a reunion of Durham County players including Mike Weston who took part in the 1967 County Championship.

Saturday’s opponents, Cumbria kicked off the game seeing the ball swept up by the hosts up field before it was moved wide to winger, Fraser Wilson who opened the scoring with an unconverted try.

Pictured: Try scored by Fraser Wilson


Before the visitors had chance to settle, the hosts applied the pressure and after only nine minutes they added a converted try to the board on the other wing by Martin Hopley.  The lead was extended to 12-0 as fly half, Josh Bragman added the extra points with a confident kick.

As they dominated proceedings, Durham went onto build up a 38-0 half time lead thanks to further tries from; Wilson and forwards, Talite Vaioleti, Danny Dixon and Tom Larder.

The second half followed a similar pattern as hosts Durham scored again within 11 minutes through forward Dixon.

Next up, debutant, Liam Checksfield added a superb individual try as he sidestepped past several – would be tacklers in a run from Durham’s half that took the score to 46-0 after Andrew Baggett easily added the extras.

In the 59th minute the Cumbrian efforts were rewarded albeit from Durham errors as they crossed the line for an unconverted try.

Continuing to play with dominance, the hosts hit back almost immediately as winger Hopley burst through to score his second of the day.

Pictured: Try score by Martin Hopley


Durham’s final try came in the 65th minute courtesy of another debutant; flanker Anthony Jackson. The conversion from Baggett took the score to 62-5.

John Dove, Durham County Senior Men Chairman of Selectors, said: “It was an excellent performance from the whole squad and a great start to the competition.

“Next up we have two travelling fixtures to complete our County Championship Campaign.”

Team sheet from Durham V Cumbria

On Saturday, Durham face Staffordshire away at Lichfield RFC (2.30pm KO)


DMP host Durham County Cup Final on Thursday

DMP host Durham County Cup Final on Thursday


Darlington Mowden Park open their Arena doors on Thursday to welcome West Hartlepool in the Final of the County Cup.

DMP beat Billingham in the last round 24- 9 and West Hartlepool were awarded a walk over against Blaydon seeing the two sides meet this Thursday.

Spectator are encouraged to go along and support the two sides in what will be an enjoyable and competitive game of rugby.

Durham County RFU Committee roles open up

Durham County RFU Committee roles open up


Durham County RFU are seeking a new Chair of the Represenative Rugby Standing Committee and a new Safeguarding Manager.

Both positions have become vaccant due to the current position holders stepping down into retirement.

So far, the positions have been fulfilled very well and we are sure this will continue when we welcome new representatives to the posts.


If you are interested check out the two descriptions below and return your interest to Durham County RFU Secretary, John Denham: jsd-dcrfu@sky.com

RRSC Chair:

2017 - DCRFU C of RRSC Advert

Safeguarding Manager:

2017 - DCRFU SM Advert

Durham County Women secure a comfortable bonus point win over Cumbria Women

Durham County Women secure a comfortable bonus point win over Cumbria Women


Durham County Women welcomed Cumbria to play the last ever match at Blaydon RFC running home six tries to win 34-5.

Pictured: Team photo against Cumbria


Despite a favourable score for the hosts Durham, it was not without pressure, determination and fight as Cumbria played to the final whistle.

The first ten minutes were very surprising for the hosts and spectators as Cumbria stepped out switched on from the off demonstrating their hunger for the game.

Durham were repeatedly put on the back foot as the visitors travelled wide exerting pressure on wingers Amie Bell and Chloe Allison.

Although Durham were not displaying their usual tempo, it seemed they were not going to let them past anyhow.

Utilising the dominant forwards, Durham began to put themselves in the game as they gradually moved play further into the Cumbria half.

A final ship off from centre Tara Breslin left Kirsty Patterson with a two on one that she confidently handed off to slide under the posts for the first converted try.

Pictured: Kirsty Patterson running in a try


Realising the space was being created out wide, great support play from Bell and Allison created opportunities for the hosts, one seeing Bell over the line only to be denied as Cumbria held it up.

Moments later Durham suffered again as Becca Walker stormed over the try line and play was taken back to an earlier foul.

Holding an experienced and strong pack, the Wearside women were in the Cumbria 22 in an unstoppable maul towards the try line. Number eight, Ali Bell finished the chance as she picked up off the back of the break down and darted under the posts.

Extending the lead to 14-0 in the 25th minute, Breslin slotted the ball between the posts for the conversion.

Just five minutes before the half time break, Cumbria gathered the break they had been fighting for as full back, Amy Orrow darted through the defence and over the try line.

After a water refill and a vital kick up the bum, the hosts returned knowing they needed to work harder in defence and utilise their speed and depth in attack.

In the second half, both sides saw some changes as fresh legs made their way onto the pitch to resource the two sides.

Captain, Steph Maddison started to get fed clean ball from the hosts as Sally Downie, Leah Davies and Sarah Hall cleared out the Cumbrian threat at the break downs.

In the backs, Ursula Harding, Breslin and Patterson opened up space hitting hard lines as they crashed the visitors defence securing another four unconverted tries for the side.

Even though Durham Women were happily tailing up the score board, Cumbria remained in the game and continued to make the side work for the win.

Great tackles from Walker, Allison and Kate Byrnes halted the Cumbria Women repeatedly.

The final ten minutes saw the visitors persistence remain as they parked themselves in the 22 edging for a second try.

It seemed as though a little space created out wide was going to give that very opportunity for the Cumbria full back however replacement winger, Clarissa Murphy manged to spin herself under the play to hold the try up.

With the ball back in the hosts possession they moved it to safety and kicked it out moments later to the joy of the final whistle securing them the 34-5 victory.

Dave Addison, Durham County Women Head Coach said: “We asked you to go out and give us something to play for next week against Lancashire and you did exactly that.

“Our second half was a much better performance as we began to play our game.

“I am very proud of the team!”


By Clarissa Murphy

Upcoming Events

  • June 27, 2017
    • Girls Schools beach festival
      12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

      In the second of the schools beach festivals, the girls throughout the county will gather at Seaburn beach to play touch rugby.

  • July 2, 2017
    • Women and Girls Summer Touch
      1:00 pm

      Darlington Mowden Park play host to the Women and Girls Summer Touch Festival on July, 2.

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