A GIRLS’ rugby team has been launched by Painswick RFC, thanks to the hard work of a teenager with a passion for the sport.

Painswick RFC, England’s oldest village rugby club, has a newly-formed girls’ squad which includes players from Stroud High, Archway, Kingshill, St Peter’s, Churchdown and Gloucestershire International schools.

So far there are around 15 girls in the under-13 and 15 category who will compete in tournaments and potentially even play at Twickenham later this year.

Flo Cross, 14, was instrumental in getting the team up and running. She said: “I played a little touch rugby and the full contact game with the boys for a year. At the end of that season I was told I couldn’t play mixed anymore and would have to find another club.

“The nearest clubs with girls’ teams were miles away and I didn’t want to leave the club I knew. I had already approached my coach of last year and he suggested Painswick would welcome a girls’ team.

“I emailed Martin Lewis, head coach at Painswick RFC to put forward the idea – he was enthusiastic and allowed me and my dad to start attracting people with posters and emails in different schools, shops, sports centres, and many other places.

“The first training session that ensued was a success and it has spiralled upwards from there.

“Rugby is open to anyone, any shape, any size, any background, any ability – whatever you look like, whoever you are, there will be a space for you on our team.”

Painswick RFC’s status as the oldest village rugby club in England is commemorated in the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham.

Early games were played in white or work clothes making it difficult for the players to distinguish who was the opposition, so the Painswick vicar at the time persuaded his wife to cut up her red curtains for sashes for the home team and the ‘Cherry and Whites’ name was born, and the club still proudly wear the colours today.

Head coach Martin Lewis said: “Painswick RFC is a family oriented club driven by a passion for rugby and enjoyment of the game. We make sure everyone is accommodated for, focusing on players having a great time, meeting new friends and, most importantly, leaving with a smile on their faces.

“Starting our girls’ squad this season was a natural progression in the club and we are all incredibly excited – England’s next star could be playing right now.”

The club is looking for more players of all ages and abilities to join in the fun.

Practice takes place on Sundays between 12 noon and 2pm at Painswick RFC’s home in Stroud Road.

For more information, visit painswickrfc.org