Scrum to stage for Batley rugby girls

READY FOR ACTION: Actors and players from Batley Bulldogs. PIC: Simon Hulme
READY FOR ACTION: Actors and players from Batley Bulldogs. PIC: Simon Hulme

The story of how a girl’s rugby team from Batley set a world first when they touched down in Australia is about to go on a tour of a different kind.

Two years ago playwright Kevin Fegan was invited to join Batley Bulldogs Under 16s on a trip down under when they became the first British girls’ rugby league team to tour Australia.

The girls, the sport and their families became the inspiration for his next production The Ruck which will premiere at the Lawrence Batley Theatre on September 15 and 16 and then tour until the 22nd in the first toured production for the Huddersfield theatre.

The play follows a group of girls from a small Yorkshire town as they overcome boy (and girl) problems, friendship dramas, racial discrimination and deep-hidden family secrets.

Fegan said: “For me the true inspiration for the play are the girls and their families. Watching the girls line up for training on the beach, they personify girl power: all shapes and sizes, celebrating themselves and their gender.

“The Ruck is a fun, fast-moving, physical play, written in verse and prose with raps and music. It’s a play in two halves which compares and contrasts the lifestyles of the girls from Batley and the Gold Coast.”

His time with the Batley Bulldogs, which were set up in 2012 and coached by one of the girl’s fathers, came through a residency supported by Creative Scene, the Arts Council Creative People and Places project in West Yorkshire.

Director Joyce Branagh added: “For me The Ruck is a really exciting new production to be working on. It’s vibrant, funny and moving about how a brilliant game like rugby league can be a support, a focus, and a metaphor for the ups and downs of everyday life – always remember: ‘try try again’.”