Girls' Elite Rugby Programme

Elite Rugby Programme Brochure 2021


From September 2021 we will launch our Girls' Elite Rugby Programme, which will be open to girls playing at County level, or at centre of excellence groups in year 11 who want to progress on to England Under 18s, Under 20s and beyond.

The programme will provide girls in years 12 and 13 the same opportunities as our Boys' Elite Rugby Programme, with focus on performance coaching, Strengthening, Conditioning, Medical Support and Video Analysis. 

The Henley College is launching a Girls Elite Rugby Programme in September 2021

After studying the Girls' Elite Rugby Programme, there is the potential to move on to the Ealing Trailfinder’s Academy Programme at Brunel University where scholarships are available for the most talented students, or further opportunities including transitioning to the Henley Hawks Women’s team who play at championship level. 

To allow the College and Ealing Trailfinders to recruit the best female rugby players from across the country, we are delighted to be able to offer Scholarship funds. Please see below for more details.


Whilst the rugby programme requires a high level of commitment, the academic programme comes first. Students are encouraged to stay on top of their studies, with the rugby staff providing pastoral support in helping the students to manage their time effectively. The College has a diverse academic offer to suit the needs of the student, including 32 different A Levels and a wide range of BTEC and vocational courses.

Overall, there was a 97% A Level pass rate in 2019, with 21 subjects achieving a 100% pass rate. Many of our A Level rugby students study Physical Education, with 55% of students on this course achieving A*-B in 2019.

The Henley College now offers an articulated pathway to Brunel University, where you can apply for a full-time rugby scholarship programme in partnership with the Trailfinders Academy. Other recent destinations for our rugby students include Bath, Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, Swansea and Exeter.



We have worked hard to develop the perfect all-round performance package to take your rugby to the next level. The level of support offered at The Henley College is designed to mirror a professional rugby club environment. Being on the programme, you will have regular access to a range of professional services created to develop and improve you as an all-round player. The rugby programme is integrated into students’ timetables. There are 8 direct hours, plus Wednesday match days, designated to rugby throughout the week. This includes: 


Places on the programme will be offered based on prior experience, your rugby CV and performance in trials. Academically, applicants to Henley College will be required to meet certain criteria depending on the course you are applying for. If you have not achieved these prerequisites, there may be other options available to you. Our squad compete at a very high level and applicants are expected to be capable of playing to at least County Standard. The Group is comprised of the top 30 players within the College's Elite Sports sector, while the next best 30 players will form the Development Group.



Former England players Kat Merchant and Kim Oliver have been appointed to coach the Girls' Elite Rugby Programme at The Henley College.

The duo, who have over 100 caps for England between them have been recruited to work together to build the foundations of the women’s academy programme alongside that of the men.

Merchant, who won the World Cup in 2014, scored a remarkable 44 tries in 58 appearances for the Red Roses on the wing. She had a nine-year spell for the national team after making her debut in 2005, and played for her country in both the 15s and 7s formats of the sport.

Oliver played in two World Cups for England in 2006 and 2010 at inside centre, and gained 43 caps. Since retiring from international rugby in 2013 she became Head Coach of Bristol Bears Women, adding significant coaching experience to her CV.

Kim Oliver said of the appointment: “This is a brilliant opportunity to be in at the beginning of what I think will be a great asset to the development of the women's game. I have known Kat for a long time and we played together so I really look forward to working with her.”

Kat Merchant added: “Kim and I have different styles but our coaching philosophy is very similar, we expect all players no matter their talent to work hard to be the best that they can be. I'm really looking forward to working together and believe that we will complement each other as we build an athlete centred, challenging, fun environment that will get the best out of the players that we have access to.

We both know the challenges of having to end our rugby careers early due to injury and we see the balance of education and rugby as the right mix within the Trailfinders system.”


Thanks to The Mike Gooley Trailfinders Charity, bursaries are available for talented and aspirational female rugby players aged 16-19. 

The bursaries will support such things as accommodation local to The Henley College, and may also assist with other living costs such as academic resources, rugby kit and travel.

“We are delighted to announce the opening of a bursary fund for girls entering our Under-18s girls rugby programme. The fund has been made available by the Ealing Trailfinders, the Henley College’s rugby partner. Talented female rugby players aged 16-19 can now access the funding they need to pursue their education at The Henley College, and take part in rugby player development through the Henley College’s Girls Rugby Programme. The programme is delivered with Trailfinders Academy and offers girls a pathway to higher education and elite sport. Exciting times for rugby players at The Henley College.” - Eamonn Egan, Vice Principal Curriculum & Quality at The Henley College.

To find out more and apply please email Tom Redfern at




A chance for prospective students looking to enrol for 2022, to train with the team, meet the coaches and hear more about the programme.

If you're interested in attending please email Tom Redfern at 

Girls' Elite Rugby Trial Dates


If you would like more information regarding the programme, please email the Rugby Head Coach, Tom Redfern at


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