• John Coumbe-Lilley

There is no Fall WPL

No WPL. No problem. Our board and I began conversations several weeks ago about the WPL not going ahead as intended. We have a plan for our club and player development including regular gameplay within phase-4 restrictions. All our members will still be able to train three times per week and get playing time to improve, have fun, and continue to strive for representative honors. A new program of activities will be available after July 20.

Get your passports ready

Rugby clubs around the world are chomping at the bit to cross the white lines and kick off their first game post-COVID-19. We are exploring opportunities for international travel in 2021. As details emerge updates will be posted to the website and internal club communications. Our goal is to tour and play abroad every other year at a minimum.

Player feedback sessions

We started our first semi-annual player checking to review goals and understand training priorities and improvements for individual players. These meetings were scheduled in one hour blocks sometimes alone or in pairs with a teammate present. The next individual player check-in will be at the end of the fall season in late October / early November.

Rugby League

We are exploring a rugby league concept with USA Women's Rugby League to become a northern franchise. Our purpose with this opportunity is to discover if it adds to an annual calendar of exciting rugby opportunities for all skill levels and a pathway for motivated players who seek that extra competitive edge in addition to the WPL.

Several of our players are registered for the upcoming USA Women's Rugby League event in Austin, TX this fall. We will be preparing all players irrespective of union club affiliation for the event with clinics and training sessions. This is a great opportunity to broaden and deepen your rugby experience and be part of an exciting process. If you love running hard, creativity and tackling, fitness, and non-stop action, then rugby league is for you.

We have come to the end of the current COVID-19 Restore Illinois phase-3 restriction. It’s been a fantastic demonstration of commitment by the board and players to assure player safety that allowed training to happen. We’ve been building the base, it’s a testament to the motivation of the players how many attended and trained so hard. We know Chicago North Shore players around Chicagoland for various reasons have been training on their own and making the best of their situation. We all look forward to them returning and filling out our playing roster.

We have trained three nights per week using creativity and innovation to keep the training sessions interesting, engaging, and challenging. Coach Joe from Chicago Women is with us now, and we have been able to focus on endurance, speed, and power (ESP) and ball handling. It was a good start in tough conditions. Player's attitudes were top class, and plenty of parking lot fun was had too.

A big shout out to Stan, and all the board members of Chicago United and players who crafted our COVID-19 protocols and assured all of our safety and wellness. Thanks to Bridget and Sarah for loading me up with more cleansing products than I shop for in a year. I am good for the fall too Bridget!

New innovations

We began tentatively introducing the Gambetta Method of speed development. Check out Vern Gambetta’s work. He’s a proper coach with great ideas for team sports speed. We also introduced handling techniques for the emerging Chicago North Shore style of rugby and an emphasis on movement quality. Saturday kicking clinics began connected with our tactical innovations from previous seasons. We’re measured in our approach, ensuring players are not overloaded, and always keeping the vibe good and positive.

Phase 4 Training – Almost Rugby

We’re allowed to train without live tackling, rucking body contact, and live scrums. Shields, hit-pads sausages, and suites can be used, two-handed touch and flag rugby is permitted. We will go to the line for our training. We will continue to observe safety guidelines and checking protocols to ensure player safety. Training emphasis will continue to be movement and technical quality, ESP and lots, and lots of play attacking with the ball and defending threats.

As a Women’s Premier League club our focus is on all our players improving and raising the quality of our play to match the quality of our community engagement and friendships.

Thursday night is touch rugby night! Come out play with Chicago North Shore.

Training Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday starts at 7 pm sharp and winds down with a cool down and announcements at 8:45 pm. Watch the club listserv, website, and YouTube channel for updates.

I can’t wait for almost rugby! See you on the field.


  • John Coumbe-Lilley

Spirits were high last night. Chicago North Shore is back training and the vibe was good and positive. The City of Chicago eased its COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to phase 3 and we started our summer training schedule at Stanton Park at the intersection of Division and Halsted with a stunning nighttime view of the Chicago skyline. As twilight came last night the city lit up, and it was fantastic to be training in one of the world's great cities.

Our training focus is to get back into rugby condition, be with our teammates, have the laughs and giggles we need and develop individual movement quality, ball-handling skills, and build a base of endurance for the season ahead (fingers crossed).

We observe World Rugby's directions, all players are tested and report their health conditioning before training. We maintain distance, avoid sharing equipment and water bottles, we follow sanitation rules and we're consistent. All 13 players who trained last night gave a great effort, and we're looking forward to building towards some kind of rugby later this year. The training ended with smiles, encouragement, and motivation to return for the next session.

We're back!


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