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!

  • John Coumbe-Lilley

My last post was on Match 20th it seems so long ago that we were planning our spring season, thinking of all the positive things and breaks that could come our way. Then the pandemic took hold and got us in its grip. Over the last ten weeks, we have come together as a club to support each other, share home workouts, keep long-standing friendships, and build new ones. We have seen our teammates suffer employment difficulties, work stress, and mounting challenges. Our rugby community has stayed connected and secure through it all.

These days, new leaders emerged to lift our spirits and brighten our days. North Shore Stars of the past and present contributed to weekly podcasts and discussions, giving career, nutrition, and life insights. We met twice per week for virtual practice sessions for six weeks. Rookies and veterans blended, and the relationship between Chicago Women and Chicago North Shore strengthened.

Spring is here, the weather has shown up, COVID-19 health restrictions are easing, and we are planning our gentle return to rugby training. We will observe the best practices for health and safety following World Rugby requirements, as well as our local authority guidelines.

As I return to rugby, my thoughts and well wishes go to the families, essential professionals, and friends touched by the negative impact of the pandemic. When life is at stake, playing rugby is a luxury, and I will not forget what happened to us this spring. I hope we never to face another spring like this, and I hope for all members of the rugby community, the best of health outside the lines so that we can play worry-free between the lines.