The Army will introduce a Women’s Rugby Sevens side for the 2019 season.
Despite being only half-way through the 15-a-side season, coaches and players are already drawing up plans for next summer, where a women’s side will be part of the Sevens Circuit for the very first time.
Captain Gemma Rowland is a big supporter of the move, citing her own personal experiences as a major reason for wanting to make it happen.
She featured for Wales at the Women’s World Cup and competed for her country at the Commonwealth Games.
She sees not being part of a sevens side is a major exclusion from her list of achievements: “For me, it’s always been disappointing that I started my rugby career playing sevens and in the Army I’ve never really had the opportunity to play it.
"It’s always an honour to put on the red shirt and play the Inter-Services or some of the great opposition we have, but we don’t have that opportunity on the sevens field.”
“Sevens is a game of skill and speed,” she continued, “One error on the sevens field and it’s a try to the other team. Your handing skills have to be top notch and you need to be the fittest.
“You don’t have to necessarily be the fastest but you need to have enough pace and acceleration. We’re looking for players that have transferred over from sports like sprinting or even netball.
"For players that aren’t maybe interested in fifteens because it is a bit too contact-heavy, sevens is about evading that contact.”
One man who has been pushing for the change is the director of Army Rugby Sevens, Major John Lord.
For him, this is a big chance for progression: “This is a real opportunity to develop the sevens sport. We’ve seen it in the Olympics now, we’ve got the Commonwealth Games, it’s had its World Cup.
“It’s a progressive sport that is attracting a lot of new talent and its developing in its own right.
"We’re at that point now where that spreads to the women and the masters. From the army perspective, we push all three as equal programmes. “
“Sport is a privilege for all of our soldiers,” he said. “It’s a great release. It teaches us a lot of skills surrounding leadership and teamwork. Of course, it’s a way of enticing new recruits to join the Army. It’s part of the offer.
“It’s something different, over and above your day job that you can get paid for.
"You can go out and make new friends and new experiences.”
The RAF already have a women’s sevens team, which makes the Army the second service to head in this direction and that is a boost for the director of Army Women’s Rugby, Major Charlie Maxwell.
She said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for women athletes within the Army to absolutely go and represent their countries. That’s really what we are looking to do.
“I would like to hope that we are blazing the trail for the other two services.
"I believe in healthy competition and with my UKAF hat on, anything that grows women’s rugby and grows the services is all good.
"That competitive nature between us is what will actually expand the sport.”