By Aoife Hogan.
The weather has claimed another game this Saturday where the Nomads were due to play Wales in their 20th game since their inception in 1993. Originally formed as a Premiership All Stars squad according to current manager Fiona Stockley, they have come to represent current and ex-internationals as well as those on the brink of playing for their country and are largely recognised as the female equivalent to the Barbarians.
Nomads provide an invaluable legacy for womens rugby says Stockers, offering opportunities to players not involved in international competition and giving retired players an excuse to dust off their boots. She remembers ex-England star Suzie Appleby who one season had played for Nomads for the previous matches in the year and then was re called by England to gain her 65th cap for England during the Six Nations. And then there was Donna Kennedy. She was capped 100 times for Scotland, then played for Nomads, and has subsequently been recalled to the Scotland squad and is currently working towards the Womens World Cup in 2010.
The opportunity afforded to younger, more inexperienced players to play with some of womens rugbys stars is enormous. Stockers recounts that many players from overseas have taken the time to travel across the globe to play for us, among them Anna Richards from New Zealand and Broni Macintosh from Australia. Playing with players of this calibre is a massive boost to those coming through the ranks.
That the likes of New Zealands Anna Richards have made this effort to play for Nomads is testament to the strength and popularity of the squad. This culminated in the Nomads most memorable tour to date when they travelled to South Africa in the summer of 2008. All victories for the Nomads are valuable as we are technically a squad of retired internationals says Stockers, however a clean sweep in South Africa in the 2008 season was very special. Playing at Newlands in Cape Town prior to the Mens Tri Nations match against New Zealand was one of my highlights.
This Saturday Nomads were due to play Wales and had lined up ex-England captain Sue Day as well as her ex-England team mates Shelley Rae (pictured) and Claire Frost. Joined by representatives from Ireland, Australia, Canada and Scotland and in keeping to Nomads tradition the squad was a mix of experience and youth. They havent lost a game since 2007 so Saturdays match was likely to be a loaded encounter until the weather interevened.
For most teams playing the Nomads is often just as tough a game as in the Six Nations. And listening to Stockers talk of her charges, that wouldnt be far off the mark: For a side who only meet the morning of the game you can expect grit determination and cheeky play. Old girls have more guile than anyone can ever imagine!
Current Nomads Squad.
Charlie Goode (Met Police, Saracens), Claire Frost (England, Saracens), Davinia Monteiro (England A/Development), Bath) Daryle Poole (England A/Development), Deena Aiken (Australia, Vale of Lune), Elisha Dee (Saracens) Fiona Britten (England, Bristol), Jackie Shiels (Ireland/Development Richmond), Laura Jenkins (England A/Development, Richmond), Lyndsey Douglas, (Scotland, Wasps) Nic Evans (Wasps), Sarah Marsh (England, Wasps), Sara Anastasi (England A/Development), Richmond) Shelley Rae (England, Wasps), Susan Day (England, Wasps) Vicki Jackson (England, Lichfield) Ama Okafor (Saracens) Michelle Houle (Richmond), Desiree Emery (Canada Top 40, Richmond) Lauren MacDonald (Canada rep) Jill McCallum (Canada rep) Tina Lee (England, Bristol) Liz Riley (England A/Development), Wasps)