Eton Manor Women’s head coach Craig Ratford was beaming with pride as he watched his team play at the home of English rugby as part of the RFU’s Twickenham Takeover.

His club was one of eight teams selected to feature at Twickenham for the Play Together Stay Together campaign. They were chosen by an independent panel for their hard work in establishing player pathways, supporting young stars on their journey through to adult rugby. 

Ratford, 33, admitted the experience was one to savour for the whole club, not just the players who were able to run out onto the hallowed turf.

“I’m very proud,” Ratford said. “We’ve had a long, challenging season and this is a reward for all the girls’ work.

“It’s also really nice to reward other people in the club with a day out. We have supporters that take people everywhere and admins that work hard off the pitch, so this is a day for them as well.

“It’s a humbling moment to see all this come to fruition and see the team come out onto the pitch.”

Eton Manor opened up with a win against Boston RFC Ladies and continued to exhibit a thrilling style of attacking, offloading rugby throughout the day.

“I was nervous at the start of the game, but in the end we played really well and won,” Ratford said. 

“It’s great having travelling fans. We see it every week, we hear it every week but then at Twickenham it’s a little bit louder. 

“There’s more energy and it’s all amplified. That gave the team a nice little kick to hear and see that.”

Eton Manor earnt their spot at the Twickenham Takeover for setting up a successful pathway structure which helps juniors progress up to their senior squads. 

The club adopts a “one team” approach, aligning younger players with senior teams from the off and offers physios and on-site gym facilities to all members.

Their U18s train with the seniors monthly and can engage in a mentoring programme which offers pastoral support to younger players, further integrating the club.

In addition, on senior women’s match days, the U16 and U18 teams are invited to watch the game to interact with the older players. 

“We’ve got five U18s players in our squad at Twickenham,” said Ratford.

“Well over 50% of the squad here today have come through our youth systems and I’m just happy to be a part of that.”

Play Together Stay Together is an England Rugby campaign to encourage people to get back into rugby. Want to get back to the action? Find your local rugby club using