Steph Hanratty believes Bury St Edmunds’ Ladies team can build on their Women’s NC East Two title success next season.
The Foxes sealed the title and promotion after an almost unbeaten campaign, winning their last 11 games to surpass all expectations and finish top of the table.
The ladies secured promotion with a 22-5 win over Peterborough at The Greene King IPA Haberden in front of a large crowd on Sunday.
The strength of the Foxes’ squad is shown by nine of their current players now representing Eastern Counties and one, Hanratty, the England Deaf Women’s side.
“We won the league on Sunday and it was a massive turnaround,” said the 34-year-old, who missed the title celebrations because of head and neck injuries suffered during the game, though she has since been given the all clear at hospital.
“Last season we were losing all our games, but this season we only lost one, on the first day of the season.
“We go into each game and try and do our best for each other. It will be tough next season going into a higher league, but we’ve got a good group of girls and hopefully we can build on what we’ve got.”
Hanratty hopes the achievements so far in her fledgling rugby career will help to inspire deaf and hard of hearing children to get involved in sport.
The Foxes star, who works as a special needs co-ordinator, only took up 15-a-side rugby last year but has already enjoyed plenty of success.
Hanratty represented the England Deaf Women’s side against Devon Ladies late last month as part of a Deaf Rugby Awareness Day.
And at the weekend she was part of the Foxes team which beat Peterborough to wrap up their league title.
“I didn’t ever think I could make the England team or the Eastern Counties team when I first started,” she said.
“It was a bit surreal to play for England. It was quite humbling to do it and I would like to help raise awareness of women’s rugby and rugby for the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I would like to keep my starting position in the England team and also help get more children who are deaf or hard of hearing active in sport.”
Following their promotion, the Foxes will be playing in National Challenge South East One from next season.