• Beckenham 50-00 Gravesend
  • 11 a side due to shortage of players, later 10 a side
  • Gravesend ankle injury before half time


Beckenham’s Under-18s Girls team catapulted themselves to a triumphant victory on Sunday 3rd October, their most recent fixture against Gravesend.



I arrived to see the group huddled together on the vets pitch with their team captain Emily Jackson leading the team hand stack. As the crowd settled in, the players talked tactics that clearly paid off, with the official score finishing at 50-00 to Beckenham.

When the whistle blew, Beckenham were off to a flying start, seizing initiative and scoring try after try. Gravesend put up a good defence, but on-side coach Andrew Ward says that the team ‘were not spreading across and so [Beckenham] could work together in tackling them and winning the ball’. This led to a series of successful tries from Beckenham, to the point where the rules had to be modified. Now, in order to score a try, the players had to pass instead of only running.

The alteration of the rules is indicative of the positive mindset of both teams—they took the opportunity to train and try new skills, to give the other team a chance but to also improve their own skills. All agreed that the Gravesend team were disadvantaged, since they were a newly formed team, a mix of Gravesend and Ashford players. Their team had only been able to train together twice before the match, and so had only played one game prior to this. The Beckenham players described to me what sounds like having an affinity for the situation of Gravesend, saying that ‘that’s where the Under-18 girls from Beckenham were a couple of seasons ago’.


Whilst Beckenham ‘tried out’ some different positions, the star members of the team remained as Sasha Ward, a second row player with a penchant for ‘being in the right position to take a pass, which put[s] doubt into the tacklers mind and enable[s] the ball carrier to score’ ; Danaè Smith, (who scored a hatrick) a determined and powerful player who scored three tries; and Funto Akarakiri, a deft and extremely fast player who was key to the success of the team.

Just before half-time, tragedy struck for Gravesend when a player injured her ankle and had to be carried out on a stretcher. From this point onwards, both teams played 10 a side. Gravesend persevered, but Beckenham prevailed, winning 73-00 (however the official score had to be noted as 50-00, as the difference in points cannot be larger than 50 in this kind of game). 

After the match, I witnessed an encounter between the teams. Instead of changing polite civilities, the players spoke at length about the strengths of the opposition, complimenting each other’s team in what can only be described as an uplifting way—this match truly was an opportunity for all to improve.

By Lucy Tyrrell