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Published: 02 July 2024

Members of the women’s rugby team at St George’s, both past and present, will be running the Oxford half marathon in October to raise money for charity. They will be doing so with their local partner club, Bec Belles.

Bethan Armes, who is the President of the club and plays as a hooker, spoke to us about women’s rugby at St George’s, as well as how half-marathon preparation compares to her usual sport.

How long have you been involved with rugby at St George’s?

I have been on the team for three years, and President for two years.

How has, or will, half-marathon training differ from usual rugby training?

Naturally, there is a lot more running! Prior to starting my half-marathon training, I hadn’t even run a 5km and, as a front-row player, my training mostly focused on strength. But now I am balancing strength and running more evenly, and I am even starting to enjoy the long runs!

Our coach said we can do less fitness training during pre-season training as the majority of our team will be running the half marathon, which is a bonus!

- Bethan Armes, President of the Women's Rugby Team at St George's -

What do SignHealth do and why does the charity mean so much to ladies’ rugby at St George’s?

We are running the half marathon in the hopes of raising money for SignHealth, a charity that is very important to our team.

SignHealth works to improve the health and well-being of Deaf people. They promote easier access to healthcare, partnering with the NHS and other services, providing domestic violence support, therapy, advocacy work, and many other useful services.

According to The Sick Of It Report from SignHealth, "Deaf people are suffering from preventable and potentially life-threatening illnesses due to access limitations, misdiagnosis, and poor treatment."

As part of their work with professionals, SignHealth provides many resources which may be useful for healthcare students and professionals in order to improve the health and well-being of Deaf people, such as tips for communicating with Deaf patients.

As a team, we are very passionate about inclusion in sports and want to see more Deaf people getting involved in sports, especially rugby! Rugby is great for improving physical and mental health. Raising money for SignHealth, we hope we will be able to support them in increasing access to sports for Deaf people so more people can enjoy the sport we love.

- Bethan Armes, President of the Women's Rugby Team at St George's -

How did the ladies’ rugby team at St George’s perform this season?

Sadly, we could not play any games last season as we often did not have enough players for a full team. Luckily, we are affiliated with an amazing local rugby club, Bec Belles, with all the St George's players playing for them, and many St George's alumni as well.

Bec Belles finished third in the NC 2 South East (Central) league, with St George's players contributing to some great tries.

Outside of rugby, our team has been working hard to learn British Sign Language (BSL), and we have done lots of fun socials, including circles, paintballing, and a tour to Majorca with the Bec Belles, which included playing in a beach rugby tournament.

- Bethan Armes, President of the Women's Rugby Team at St George's -

What are your aspirations for the team next season?

We have decided to take a year out of playing in a league to focus on building our team so hopefully we can come back to the league stronger than ever. We will also continue playing with the Bec Belles, who we hope will continue to thrive in the league and maybe even win it!

Outside of rugby this year will be the first time many of our players will be running a half marathon and we hope to continue improving our BSL skills.

What would you say to anyone interested in joining ladies’ rugby at St George’s?

Come down and give it a try. Rugby is a great sport, not only for fitness, but also for building lifelong friendships. We always have taster sessions during Freshers but we will always accommodate new people throughout the season.

- Bethan Armes, President of the Women's Rugby Team at St George's -

Find out more about women’s rugby at St George’s.

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