Women’s Rugby

Women’s rugby has a rocky history, but interest within the sport has grown and it is almost equal to that of men’s. What first started as an event to be held behind closed doors is now proudly broadcasted to the nation.

There is no real date for when women’s rugby began due to the secrecy of women in the sport industry at that time (believed to be around the 1800s), especially when participating in contact sports. Although, in 1891 there was evidence of an attempt to form a purely women’s team when female rugby players tried to go on a tour of New Zealand. This was later cancelled due to sexist public outcry. Later, in 1903, the sport was played as a Union in France and then in 1913 in England, which implies that it was a globally played sport. However, it was not publicised and was played behind closed doors without the presence of men.

However, fast forward 100 years and women’s rugby is being aired on live television. There are many rugby clubs that have a women’s teams and the Six Nations is now open for women and men to compete in. It’s not all great news though, most minor leagues are not complete because there simply is not enough interest and girls just do not want to play. One year 9 student from TGS stated that people think rugby is “associated with men” and she did not believe that rugby is for women is as equally played. She said that “the quality of aired television is worse than men’s and the atmosphere in the stadium is not the same.” When questioned about the spectators she said that for women’s rugby “there aren’t as many spectators” and the “vibe in the stadium isn’t as encouraging.”

In a survey of Tonbridge Grammar School students, the Year 8’s were very keen to try rugby and 20 out of 28 of them said they play, or would consider playing rugby. However only 10 out of 25 Year 9 students said that they would consider playing rugby and the figures dropped further in Year 10 where only 7 out of 25 students said that they would play contact rugby. This suggests that contact rugby is more appealing to younger students and that the whole idea of women in rugby is a new idea for school students.

However, this is nothing to do with the lack of advertising throughout Tonbridge Grammar School. There are plasma screens placed in every building stating that “everyone is welcome” to join the club. One Year 9 student suggested that girls are put off of joining because “their friends do not attend” and they do not want “to get muddy” but there are other factors to the lack of team members such as “other clubs can clash with rugby, and dance club is on at the same time”. The student said that “it should be on more times a week and possibly on after school so that the eager students can come without worrying about any other clubs.” When asked about the teachers in the club and the club itself, the student eagerly said “it’s great fun, everyone has a laugh and the teachers who run it are really friendly and they explain the rules very well.” Another student that was interviewed commented on the fact that the lack of female coaches in the rugby department (not just in the school, but across the country) may dissuade people. She also thinks that people may be deterred from the sport because they are not aware of all of the different forms of rugby and types, for example ‘touch’ and ‘rough touch’ which leads them to stereotype all forms of the sport as violent. She thinks that if they participated for just one session to see what rugby is actually like (as opposed to the rumours) they might enjoy playing.

Our society is not forcing girls to join against their will, but does encourage that people educate themselves about women’s contact rugby and look at the sport with an open mind. Once this happens, the interest from both women and men are equal and everyone will feel able to participate in the sport.

Women’s rugby has a rocky history, but interest within the sport has grown and it is almost equal to that of men’s.  What first started as an event to be held behind closed doors is now proudly broadcasted to the nation.

There is no real date for when women’s rugby began due to the secrecy of women in the sport industry at that time (believed to be around the 1800s), especially when participating in contact sports. Although, in 1891 there was evidence of an attempt to form a purely women’s team when female rugby players tried to go on a tour of New Zealand. This was later cancelled due to sexist public outcry. Later, in 1903, the sport was played as a Union in France and then in 1913 in England, which implies that it was a globally played sport. However, it was not publicised and was played behind closed doors without the presence of men.

However, fast forward 100 years and women’s rugby is being aired on live television. There are many rugby clubs that have a women’s teams and the Six Nations is now open for women and men to compete in. It’s not all great news though, most minor leagues are not complete because there simply is not enough interest and girls just do not want to play. One year 9 student from TGS stated that people think rugby is “associated with men” and she did not believe that rugby is for women is as equally played. She said that “the quality of aired television is worse than men’s and the atmosphere in the stadium is not the same.” When questioned about the spectators she said that for women’s rugby “there aren’t as many spectators” and the “vibe in the stadium isn’t as encouraging.”

In a survey of Tonbridge Grammar School students, the Year 8’s were very keen to try rugby and 20 out of 28 of them said they play, or would consider playing rugby. However only 10 out of 25 Year 9 students said that they would consider playing rugby and the figures dropped further in Year 10 where only 7 out of 25 students said that they would play contact rugby. This suggests that contact rugby is more appealing to younger students and that the whole idea of women in rugby is a new idea for school students.

However, this is nothing to do with the lack of advertising throughout Tonbridge Grammar School. There are plasma screens placed in every building stating that “everyone is welcome” to join the club. One Year 9 student suggested that girls are put off of joining because “their friends do not attend” and they do not want “to get muddy” but there are other factors to the lack of team members such as “other clubs can clash with rugby, and dance club is on at the same time”. The student said that “it should be on more times a week and possibly on after school so that the eager students can come without worrying about any other clubs.” When asked about the teachers in the club and the club itself, the student eagerly said “it’s great fun, everyone has a laugh and the teachers who run it are really friendly and they explain the rules very well.” Another student that was interviewed commented on the fact that the lack of female coaches in the rugby department (not just in the school, but across the country) may dissuade people. She also thinks that people may be deterred from the sport because they are not aware of all of the different forms of rugby and types, for example ‘touch’ and ‘rough touch’ which leads them to stereotype all forms of the sport as violent. She thinks that if they participated for just one session to see what rugby is actually like (as opposed to the rumours) they might enjoy playing.

Our society is not forcing girls to join against their will, but does encourage that people educate themselves about women’s contact rugby and look at the sport with an open mind. Once this happens, the interest from both women and men are equal and everyone will feel able to participate in the sport.