Robert Clack pupils combined to good effect to win the London Youth Games under-14 girls' rugby competition on behalf of Barking & Dagenham.

The event, held in Barnes the day after International Women’s Day, saw 160 girls aged 10-13 compete in the ‘XRugby’ and ‘Touch Union’ versions of the sport.

The ‘Touch Union’ game gives the younger age group the chance to develop confidence in their rugby skills, such as throwing and catching, without the full contact nature of the sport.

Short 10-minute games against other boroughs from across London empowered the girls, giving them a space to develop their confidence and boost their self-belief.

Maisie, one of Barking & Dagenham players, said: “I love rugby; the tackling, the rucking, the scoring; it just makes me feel good. I feel superior when I play. I like it because all my anger that builds up, I just get it out in rugby!"

Team manager Claire Bond added: “It’s great, some of the girls have really come out of their shell this year. Some of the wingers especially don’t say a word, but on the pitch they’ve a completely different person, like their inner beast comes out which is really nice.

"I love the fact that rugby is something for everyone, no matter what size you are and no matter what you look like.”

Female rugby is going through an exciting period of growth, with major brands like TikTok investing in the Women’s Six Nations after the Women’s World Cup Final broke a world record for attendance at a women’s rugby match.

Joanna, another of the Barking & Dagenham pupils, said: “When I first got to secondary school, I didn’t want to play rugby, I thought it was too rough. But now I play, I love it. It makes me feel strong and makes me feel tough and powerful.”

Maggie Alphonsi, who played a key role in England winning seven successive Six Nations titles as well as the 2014 World Cup, began her stellar rugby career by representing Enfield at the London Youth Games.

And the 2023 competition could well help develop even more extraordinary females, on and off the pitch.