YORK RUFC Ladies are celebrating a stellar debut season in competitive rugby.

Having previously played only friendly matches after forming in 2017, the team joined the Women's National Challenge North Two East division for the first time last autumn - and they have lifted the title after winning eight and drawing one of their 10 league games.

They sealed the success with a thumping 69-0 victory over Doncaster at Clifton Park - finishing just one point ahead of Hull Ionians Ladies - and are now promoted to Women's NC North One, effectively the fourth tier of women's rugby in England.

David Norman, the team's joint-coach this term alongside fellow York 3rds player Tom Heppleston, said: "We always had confidence, with the team having played well in their first year. The goal set out prior to us starting this season was to win the league.

"We have been really pleased with their progress and mindset in training and on match-days. We have no doubt the experiences they have created will put them in good stead for the future."

York Ladies' only defeat came at West Park Leeds II, with their draw having come at Driffield in the first game of the season. Crucially they beat runners-up Hull Ionians home and away, including 22-20 in a Clifton Park nail-biter in early January.

Norman added: "You talk about experiences. The whole game against Hull at home was one. The last scrum of the game, Hull put the ball in, we win the scrum, we win the game 22-20."

Full-back Ellie Seagrave finished as top try-scorer for the season - notching six on the last day of the campaign - with other key contributions coming from the likes of captain Ruth Whitehead at stand-off, Harriet Etchells at scrum-half, front-rower Kat Feetenby-Gare, second-row Georgina Roberts and centre Robyn Davies.

Norman added: "It's been a team effort. The girls who had never played rugby before have come on in leaps and bounds."

North Two East, a development league, allows teams to play 12-a-side matches if squads are short-handed, but that is not the case in North One. York are always recruiting new players regardless, and details can be found online or at their Clifton Park base.

Their next rugby action is the Chester 7s in June. This Saturday the team are holding a charity day, being sponsored for effectively relay rowing and cycling 218 miles on indoor machines - the equivalent of going from York to Twickenham.