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Julie Proctor and Lauren Taylor to captain promoted Eagles in National Challenge League

Lauren Taylor and Julie Proctor

Kirkby Stephen’s women’s rugby team, the Upper Eden Eagles have named flanker Julie Proctor, as their new Captain, with Lauren Taylor as Vice-Captain. The announcements were made at the club’s annual Captain’s Night, and coincided with the confirmation that the Eagles have been promoted into the National Challenge League Division North West.

Julie, who was awarded Players Player for 2019/20 season, and scrum half Lauren, succeed front row, Bianca Cousin and second row, Joanna Wilkinson, who are handing over the reins after two highly successful seasons as a development team.

Last season, the Eagles, coached by Dave Pearson and John Edgar, had looked set to win the Women’s Challenge Senior (North) League One, having remained unbeaten in their first season as a stand-alone team until March. Only two points behind their nearest rivals, who they were still to play, the team was expected to achieve a further win in front of a home crowd and lift the league title. However, the season ended abruptly due to coronavirus, which came as a huge blow to the young team and their club.

Despite the setback and uncertainty around when full-contact competitive rugby can resume, the Eagles have continued to steadily grow in numbers, regularly welcoming new members and taking their total number of RFU registered players to 44 in just two seasons, demonstrating just how popular the women’s game has become in Cumbria, and across the UK. The team commenced pre-season training in early July and are looking forward to the challenge of matching their previous record when the next season eventually comes around.

Last week, the RFU have confirmed that fixtures outside of the Premiership, Championship and women’s top tier will not be able to take place until at least January 2021, as a result of rising Covid-19 case numbers and additional government restrictions, but non-contact and touch rugby fixtures can still be arranged.

Julie, 23, from Great Musgrave, and Lauren, 21, from Flitholme have only been playing rugby since the team was established in 2018, but have quickly demonstrated great dedication, sporting talent and leadership, on and off the pitch.

Coach Dave Pearson, said: ”After such a long break, there’s now a real hunger to get back to competitive, full contact rugby, but we’re still on stage four of the RFU Return to Community Rugby Roadmap, meaning we’ve got two stages left to go before we’re back to normal activity. However, we’re hopeful of moving onto the penultimate stage soon and can’t wait to get stuck into the new season with Julie and Lauren at the helm. Both girls are very skillful, hard working rugby players who know how to motivate the team, and it’ll be exciting to see just how far we can go.”

Captain Julie Proctor Said: “I’m really honoured to have been selected as Team Captain alongside Lauren, and we’re so proud of everything the Eagles have achieved so far. It’s incredible to see how much everyone’s confidence has grown, and we’re absolutely ready for the challenge of playing against more experienced teams in this new league, whenever that might be. Until that time comes, we’ll be training hard and working on improving our skills and fitness to make sure we’re on top form, and we want more ladies to join us. Hardly any of us had played rugby before joining the Eagles, so don’t let a lack of experience put you off having a go. We’re a friendly team and it’s the best fun!”.

If you are interested in trying rugby for the first time, or returning to the sport, you are welcome to attend any of the Eagles training sessions, which take place at 7.00-8.30pm every Wednesday evening at Upper Eden RUFC, Kirkby Stephen.

Contact the Upper Eden Eagles via their social media pages (@UpperEdenEagles), or email Women’s Recruitment Officer, Katy Strong – [email protected]

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