Portsmouth Valkyries pair take away Twickenham moment to never forget – but Hampshire Women fall short in bid to land trophy at home of English rugby
Witcher, who also holds the role of Portsmouth Valkyries head coach, led the team made up of players from across Hampshire to the Gill Burns County Championship Division 2 final – only to fall at the final hurdle against Eastern Counties at the home of England rugby at the weekend.
Tries from Hannah Kemish and Portsmouth Valkyries pairing of Abi Harding and Jordan Wilshire had handed Hampshire the advantage on three separate occasions, although it would be the Eastern Counties opposition who ran out eventual 26-19 winners in the Twickenham showpiece.
Witcher admitted initial feelings of ‘disappointment’ at coming up just short in the immediate aftermath, but is instead taking great pride of his county players’ efforts to reach the final and the day everyone involved with the set-up managed to experience.
‘All 22 girls got on the pitch, we gave a really good account of ourselves. Even afterwards some of the RFU delegates came up to us and said ours was one of the best games out of the four played at Twickenham on the day,’ said Witcher.
‘We’re really pleased and and really proud of that as well. It was an absolutely amazing experience. You get all the way to the final, you always want to win it. Seeing the experience the girls had – I’ve emailed the county office (Hampsire RFU) – the experience the girls had before, during and after the game – I can tell you the result doesn’t matter. At the time, obviously I was disappointed, we came so close and we did play really well.’
But Witcher remained gracious in defeat, crediting County Championship Division 2 winners Eastern Counties for their efforts in a tightly contested final.
He added: ‘We played really well, we scored three tries, we went ahead three times. We scored first and within five minutes.
‘Fair play to Eastern Counties, they scored with 10 minutes to go to make it 26-19 and just saw the game out. We put loads of pressure on them and we just could not get over the line.’