WHAT YOU SHOULD B E TALK ING ABOUT T H IS MONTH
“Women’s rugby deserves more respect”
THIS TIME four years ago, women’s rugby in England was on a high. They had just won the 15-a-side World Cup and 20 top players were then given professional sevens contracts.
Now it’s hit a new low. The sevens contracts don’t appear to have worked, with England losing in the first round of this summer’s World Cup, and 15s players are in limbo. RFU CEO Steve Brown has talked of the union’s “ambition” to offer pro deals in both forms of the game and mentioned they could be introduced this season, which came as a surprise to players.
The IRFU has also been criticised for its attitude towards women’s 15s. First, there was the controversy over appointing a part-time coach, then the fact they turned down a Test series in Australia to run alongside the men’s June matches.
Those are just a couple of examples of issues facing the women’s game and the first point to make is that communication needs to be better. Players deserve to know about their union’s plans.
Secondly, sevens and 15s deserve equal footing. A survey conducted by International Rugby Players (see P30) showed 68% of elite women’s players feel more focus is given to sevens.
One player said: “In my country, 15s is an after-thought. Sevens has priority.” Another said: “All the funds go to sevens since it’s become an Olympic sport. All the better players get sent to sevens.”
If rugby is serious about growing the sevens and 15s games – and that’s the message we so often hear from the unions – equal importance must be given to both, with resources and funding shared between both forms.
If they think there is more growth potential in sevens, then be honest about it. But Rugby World would hate to see the 15s game neglected further and the chopping and changing of priorities is doing no one any good.
In limboEngland’s players have received mixed messages about contracts