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Women's rugby deserves more respect

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John Beattie | 11:56 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

The women's World Cup kicks off in England on Friday. There are 12 teams taking part, with sides like Sweden and Kazakhstan involved. Come on Scotland!

And here's my question: Why will this event be ignored in comparison to the coverage given to women's soccer, tennis, golf, and athletics?

I don't quite get it.

New Zealand will be at this World Cup, as will South Africa, England, the USA, Canada and the other principal Six Nations and southern hemisphere countries.

Some of the players from the richer countries are professional. Go onto YouTube and have a look for New Zealand women's rugby and be prepared to be impressed.

womensrugby595.jpgI have two main memories of women's rugby.

A while ago I was in Canada and took the Toronto Scottish women's team for a coaching session because I was staying with Alan Freemen, whose partner Heather Hunt earned her first cap in the centre for Canada in 1996.

I rolled up to watch the most professional warm-up I'd ever seen, some of the best ball presentation stuff I'd ever seen, and 20 of the best female athletes I had ever seen in one place. They didn't need my input.

And my second memory is when we interviewed one of the Scottish players live on the radio ahead of the last women's World Cup. "We have elected," she said, "to have a drinking ban before and then during the World Cup for as long as we are in the tournament."

Can you imagine that? Even British and Irish Lions tours have their "drinking" episodes. In that moment the women's team, who all had to raise much of their own money to travel, proved they were dedicated.

Do any men's rugby teams have drinking bans?

There are, of course, lots of serious questions to ask about women's rugby. Should women be rucking and mauling, tackling high and flying into each other?

Would you like your daughter to play? In my opinion if they want to then, yes, of course they should and it's the prospective participant's decision and nobody else's.

Our daughter Jennifer plays football down at Arsenal and we respect that and, perhaps because of that, I have grown to respect women's sports massively.

Women, I think, try harder than men. Glasgow City women's football team, one of the best soccer teams in Scotland, but amateur, train five times a week.
Does your rugby club do that?

Anyway, as women's football becomes the fastest growing sport in the world I'd like women's rugby to follow suit and get the respect it deserves.


  • Comment number 1.

    Spelling mistake...mens game, not means game

  • Comment number 2.

    PeterK- I think that you mean "men's" nor "mens".

  • Comment number 3.

    I obviously meant "not". :)

  • Comment number 4.

    "Should women be rucking and mauling, tackling high and flying into each other?" - Sounds like a night out in Sauchiehall St!

    Will any of the Women's WC games be on Terrestrial TV?

  • Comment number 5.

    Not in the UK where Sky Sports tied the rights up as part of an overall deal with the RFU. The IRB will be streaming some of the games live on their website though.

  • Comment number 6.

    The most rediculous spelling argument

  • Comment number 7.

    "The most rediculous spelling argument " please god that was intentional...

    In answer to your question John having coached ladies rugby and dated a lady who was the best No6 I have ever seen - male or female, I would rather they flew into each other than into me....

  • Comment number 8.

    "There are, of course, lots of serious questions to ask about women's rugby. Should women be rucking and mauling, tackling high and flying into each other?"

    We could also make the pich a bit smaller so they dont have to run as far and they should only play for 60mins. We will have to stop them getting cuts as we dont want them getting hysterical at the sight of blood.

    What abuot ladies driving lorries or riding motorbikes??? i think serious questions should also be asked.....

  • Comment number 9.

    Should men be playing rugby considering the potential for serious injuries - particularly life threatening neck injuries in the scrum? Just a thought.

  • Comment number 10.

    ... and why is the women's world cup held at Guildford and not at Twickenham? Come on RFU, get a grip!

  • Comment number 11.

    The semis and final are at the Stoop.

  • Comment number 12.

    I am all for it, why shouldn't they. A sport is a sport. Wife played Ice Hockey in Paisley.

  • Comment number 13.

    PetePat - it's an indication, isn't it? Why is the final not at a major international ground? Still a small sport but growing I hope.

    I confirm it should be mens game - dammed spell checker.

    Just above freezing again in Glasgow - yes, the last remnants of summer.

  • Comment number 14.

    There are, of course, lots of serious questions to ask about women's rugby. Should women be rucking and mauling, tackling high and flying into each other?

    Glad you backed that up with a positive 'yes' in your opinion, for me it's something that shouldn't even come into consideration, there should be no differences because of your gender wether it's rugby, cricket, the race track or the army or the boardroom.

    If your good enough your good enough, go out and enjoy it.

  • Comment number 15.

    All I say is be careful about high tackles around the chest, it's my favourite piece of anatomy!

  • Comment number 16.

    2 big reasons I can think of for women's rugby not being popular or in demand

    1: The contest is going to be played within the London area. With all the stadia around the country that could host these games and give it a big reception North and South, but no effort has been made to fill bigger stadia. Put a couple of games in Leicester at Welford Road or the Rec in Bath etc. charge £7 for tickets and you'll get plenty of interested parties. Often only the hardcore fans and locals attend these things. If you offer it in one locality you'll get the hardcore travelling fans and a handful of people that live nearby

    2: Terrestrial TV does nothing to try and push the brand of rugby and that's a killer for developing sports. The BBC dropped womens rugby from the bill during the 6 nations when I thought that they were being progressive, allowing viewers to press red to see the women's competition

  • Comment number 17.

    There’s no difference between the sexes, just as long as the same sexes play against each other. A woman’s body can only perform to a certain level and receive so much damage... just like a man, we're all human!

  • Comment number 18.

    The problem may be at grass roots level where probably as a result of less than decent coaching women's rugby just doesn't match up- I supported women's rugby at high school and at university level and the quality generally isn't as high as the male equivalent. the result of this is that female rugby get's a bad reputation as being of poor quality. maybe rectifying this would be a good first step in promoting the game

  • Comment number 19.

    Loved theosportsfan's input (#4): still laughing. Viva the gels!

  • Comment number 20.

    Women's sport in general is always under-valued compared to the men's equivalent. It's a sad sad truth. Every single one of those internationals playing at Guildford over the next few weeks is doing this unpaid and I think there's a lot to be said for the dedication and commitment they have. Cat Spencer, the England captain, for example has taken time off from work, as have other team mates to concentrated solely on this.

    As for the discussion about venues etc, I have a couple of thoughts. Firstly, I'm not sure the RFU or the RFUW had much input in to the venue choices. Was it the IRB?

    Secondly, the argument about using/not using Twickenham. I would LOVE to see the final at Twickenham, but does anyone realistically think an 82,000 seater stadium would be filled? Or even half-filled? The turnout at Middlesex 7s at the weekend was pretty poor and as a result the atmosphere was a bit lacking.
    Back in November England played New Zealand straight after the men's game at Twickenham. Turnout was an impressive 12,000- but still it felt quite empty (england won BTW- great game!). Turnouts at Women's internationals down at Esher haven't always attracted massive crwds, either (a couple of thousand for a lot of the 6 nations).

    So I can see why they chose to go for a smaller stadium- get it packed out, get the great atmosphere in there. However disappointing it is that they aren't and Twickenham, and god knows I would pay VERY good money for it to be there, I personally think the organisers have to be realistic.

    The same argument can be made for the single venue. I can imagine the thinking on it was- how can we get the maximum number of people to the games? Answer- put more games in one day. Which again, makes sense. People may be more likely to come to see 6 games than just one. It is a shame they didn't think of trying to have different venues, but again, I imagine it's probably a money thing.

    Having said all of that I, for one, would applaud the RFUW who have done an enormous amount of work with a very limited budget (thanks IRB). Getting Sky to broadcast is an absolute coup and is a massive step in the right direction!

  • Comment number 21.

    really struggling to see the point of this one John. We all know women should play rugby. you even say so yourself.

    personally i don't like women's sport because of the standard but i can certainly appreciate what they're doing. Comment 20 - i don't think it's undervalued at all. it is what it is i.e not as good as men.

    And as for comment 7 - Bruce - the best 6 you have EVER seen male or female?? Big shout that one matey. But they do say love is blind....

  • Comment number 22.

    Totally agree about using a smaller stadium - they wouldn't have a hope of selling out the main Twick grounds but they do have a shot at filling the Stoop which will make for a better atmosphere and better TV.

  • Comment number 23.

    davykell - the point is that compared to womens tennis - equal status - womens athletics, womens golf and womens soccer, womens rugby is on the back burner in terms of publicity

  • Comment number 24.

    Why not, can't beat a bit of "girl on girl violence". :O)

  • Comment number 25.

    The whole media attitude to womens sports need to be re-set if progress is to be made. Womens team sports at the highest level are often technically as good as the men, but as long as they are not televised and/or reported in the national press the general public will continue with their misconceptions. This applies particularly to major sports like Rugby, cricket and football where the national womens teams are creative and successful (without the money input the men have) but national UK media simply does not report it.
    By the way if someone told me as a women I could not play a sport that would just make me want to do it more!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    "Should women be rucking and mauling, tackling high and flying into each other?"

    They can certainly ruck, maul and fly into each other as much as they want.

    However, they certainly shouldn't be making high tackles. I believe that is an offence in the men's game that is also found in the woman's game...

    Other than that, carry on.

  • Comment number 27.

    I knew most of the ladies rugby team while I was at University as we shared socials with them and most of them are far away from the stereotype that is often portrayed on a social level of female rugby players.

    Sky did a reasonable job of showing highlights of the women's six nations but one the thing they have to do is get more in the media, Catherine Spencer is the perfect person to get them in the media, not only is she captain, but is elequent and also very easy on the eye. I'm not saying that we should be pinning her up on Page 3 of The Sun and The Star but get her in the television studios of breakfast news, get her to start The National Lottery. I'm sure if you give her TV time people will listen and hopefully use there feet.

  • Comment number 28.

    In my view Women's rugby although not quite as quick is as hard as the men's game and quite often more skilful. This is mainly due to men relying on natural attributes like strength and power rather than skill.
    The wife of one of the chaps at the rugby club played for Southwest England and played provincial level rugby in New Zealand. She was a prop and came along to a scrummaging session - she absolutely turned the bloke inside out and when he started getting a bit feisty on the next scrum punched him and told him to behave himself (Best punch I've ever seen!).

    Women should play the same game and there must be more coverage!

    From the 1st to the 4th September I'm cyclng from Lands End to Twickenham (Great British Bike Ride) and we are walking out at Twickenham in the Double Header. In my view the Women's rugby world cup is the bigger competition and we should be cycling/walking in there...

    Everybody is spot on - Women's sport in general is not given the right level of respect!

    BTW - 340 miles in 4 days. I must be mad!!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    You stayed with mingo and lived to tell the tale!

  • Comment number 30.

    21 DaveyKell

    You can only judge any player by their performance against their opposition. This was a girl that was utterly dominant (no sniggers from the cheap seats please) in any match I saw her play in and also bearing in mind the game she played. I am not sure whether it is still true but at that time the women's game was far less contact heavy with a greater understanding, and use of space.

    Indeed the training sessions that I watched or had input in I would have said that there was a far greater understanding of the need and the ways to manufacture space across backs and forwards than I experienced as a player and much better support play (OK edinburgh wanderers not the greatest back line in the world but we sure lost to some good ones). I suspect that the collective intelligence of the teams kinda figured out that taking the ball into contact was a last resort for them not for a lack of bravery but because they wanted to be sure they would get it back.

    You can probably guess that from I am a fan always have been and i certainly think the game deserves a much wider audience but unless the woman's game has radically changed over the last decade or so I would describe it as very different to the mens game (whether for better or for ill being a matter of taste in all honesty).

  • Comment number 31.

    The refereeing seems to be of a higher calibre in the WRWC. And the food.

    Perhaps this is why NZ has won the last three?

  • Comment number 32.

    You ask why womens rugby is not given the same coverage as soccer, tennis, golf, and athletics?

    Here is what I think:

    IMO in tennis, golf and athletics, the performance gap between women and men is far less than in contact sports like rugby and football. As a result, the quality and competitivness is just as strong as in the mens game.

    You also have to remember that Rugby is not as big (and even rarer womens rugby) in many foreign countries as it is in Britain, as a result rugby "internationals" of the womens game are much rarer.

    Womens soccer recieves a great deal more coverage because you can do more or less anything to football and people will still want to watch it, due to the massive popularity of the sport ie beach soccer etc

  • Comment number 33.

    I have long felt that the lack of respect shown to women's rugby (and football) in this country is down to that old Scottish failing: Ayebeenism.

    Football and rugby have aye been men's sports, therefore: "Lassies shouldnae be playin them".

    Back in 1985 I was with the Scotland touring party in the USA and Canada. In Seattle several of the Seattle women's rugby team were at a barbecue for the Scottish party - much to the disgust of the SRU "blazers" on the trip. In the course of the afternoon two of the women props got talking to Norrie Rowan and Iain "Bear" Milne.

    They had the respect of two very good props, because the girls knew their stuff and were keen to learn more. It was soon obvious, these girls knew what they were talking about, they weren't trying to get off with Norrie or Iain (let's face it - Gavin Hastings was the tottie-magnet on that trip) and an in-depth discussion on the technicalities propping ensued.

    I've seen similar episodes in football, once the men realise these girls are serious, dedicated and are keen to improve, they get respect. The problem is the great unwashed public.

    My own club has a girls team - who train a good deal harder and oftener than some of the male teams. More power to them.

  • Comment number 34.

    Right I actually play women's rugby and have done since I was 17. There is nothing wrong with women tackling, rucking and mauling. We all get taught the same rules and actually follow them.

    I agree there is more skill and if you actually watch the full 80 mins of a women's game they do not rely on the kicking game in the same way as men, the game is alot more organised and alot more in hand which is more enjoyable to both play and watch

  • Comment number 35.

    How do you play rugby AND do the ironing?

  • Comment number 36.

    Hawkeye its simple and the same way my wife and I run a business together, she works her socks off while I drop the kids off at the cleaners and the washing off at the school

  • Comment number 37.

    There's no argument. Women are superbly skillful rugby athletes. What females may lack in physical size is made up for in skills and tactical awareness.

    My first experience of refereeing a women's premier match was a real eye opener, and perhaps the most enjoyable match of the year. At the highest level the womens game can be summed up with 4 words: skill, pace, passion & intelligence.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi, thanks for all your comments. The reason I wrote this is this: my daughter plays football and I've watched a lot of it. The main difference between mens and womens sport is testosterone, in all its senses.

    Testosterone builds muscle, and muscle provides power. The power provides men with greater speed and strength so they run faster, tackle harder, and kick the ball harder. It's the same in all sports.

    But what I find when I watch women's sports is that my brain gets used to the fact that there isn't the same power but I actually find I enjoy it more. In some ways it relies more on creativity that crash bang wallop.

    I love watching women's football, but must confess to not having watched much women's rugby.

    The fact remains, women train harder for their sports than men.

  • Comment number 39.

    Great to see women's rugby getting some well deserved respect on a forum like this, and I agree with much of what has been said about the high levels of skill and tactical awareness on show in the women's game. However I can guarantee (as someone who currently plays in the RFUW Premiership) that if you switch on to any of the World Cup matches over the next few weeks (especially those featuring the likes of England and New Zealand), there will be no shortage of power and collisions!! Obviously I recognise that women will never be as powerful as men simply due to testosterone and muscle mass etc, and we don't profess to be, but with the strength and conditioning, and nutritional support, currently available to these top teams, I can guarantee that the girls are getting bigger and more powerful, and the collisions are therefore getting bigger, and the contact area more exciting. Watch out for players like Rochelle 'Rocky' Clark, Maggie Alphonsi and Heather Fisher...three of the best athletes you will see in any sport, and three people you certainly wouldn't want to collide with in any situation!!

    And John, thanks for bringing this to people's attention - it is press like this that the women's game needs!

    Now everyone get down to Surrey this weekend and support...!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I know this has nothing to do with women's rugby but I have to share it....a friend is just back from having coffee with a pal who says she is travelling tomorrow on Ryanair and wearing six pairs of pants, four pairs of socks, three bras and three shirts. This is because she just wants cabin baggage. My friend was just falling off her chair when her pal turned to her daughter and said: "In fact, do you remember when we all wore blankets flying on one holiday!"

    This story nearly killed me

  • Comment number 41.

    John my boy - the RyanAir story made my morning.

    Michael O'Leary does not need her £20 each way.

    Hope that they don't stop and search her.

  • Comment number 42.

    just another thought. There is a debate about modern rugby breding massive one dimensional players with all flair trained out in favour of baulk and strengh. The general consensus here seems to be that women make up for their lack of strength in other ways so how about mixed rugby???? minimim of 4 women in the forwards and 3 ladies in the backs??? should provide the nice balance of strength and flair. Or what about male forwards and female backs or vice versa..

    In mens rugby there are huge mismatches in size and strength anyway (just remembering with a little smile that big kiwi winger running over half of the english backs) and i dont think that a professional sportswomanman would think twice about fronting up to a bloke maybe twice her size.

  • Comment number 43.

    32 - NavyArmyBlue ... as far as I understand, football is supposed to be a non-contact sport!

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression you haven't watched much women's rugby full stop, let alone premiership or international. Bearing in mind that most international and high level women rugby players do so while holding down a full time job which they fit their training around, first up, you can't fault their dedication to their sport. I find it a little insulting to make the assumption therefore that the quality or competitiveness is somewhat lacking by comparison with the men's game. England women beat the New Zealand Black Ferns, ranked number one in the world, at home at Twickenham the day the men failed to even make an impression and despite claiming this is because "Rugby is not as big (and even rarer womens rugby) in many foreign countries as it is in Britain" you should perhaps consider checking out how many countries play women's rugby, attempted to get into the world cup and the diversity of countries that are in this summer's WRWC.

    Top draw internationals are not rarer in women's sport, simply far less well-known (perhaps as they are more likely to be found training than on the arm of some model, being caught for speeding or bringing their game into disrepute), which is a shame since many of them work incredibly hard to develop their games, encourage others to play them and taking their sports to people who would never even consider playing them. Perhaps our time might be better spent finding ways to fund and develop girls' and women's sport to get them to a level of quality that would satisfy you, as opposed to denegrating the contribution that talented female athletes have made to the sport. And I, for one, will be proudly taking my seat at the Stoop to watch the final. My money's on England but then its a fairly safe bet on a team that has 5 six nations grand slams under their belt - bit better than the men in recent years wouldn't you say?

  • Comment number 44.

    John Beattie - you should be ashamed of yourself..

    Woman's rugby is very under appreciated I agree, but that joke was horrific. Not even a smirk.

  • Comment number 45.

    Ian, it wasn't a joke, it happened at lunch time. My pal met a pal today and her mate said it to her.

  • Comment number 46.

    yes, yes, John, the women's game, whatever, but more importantly, as part of the national effort to save the apostrophe from misuse (or indeed non-use in this case!) can I just say that it is (not 'should' or 'could', etc.) MEN'S game and not mens (similarly WOMEN'S and not womens) game? Even the spell checker on this comments thingy as I'm writing is underlining mens and womens! Isn't yours? Now there may be be one or two of you (hopefully not more) who'll be thinking comments? Idiot! It's COMMENT'S!

  • Comment number 47.

    These mens and womens is tricky.

  • Comment number 48.

    Excellent to see your support and enthusiasm for the Women's World Cup, John - rightly so. Perhaps now you can sort out the inexplicable omission of match details from BBC Sport's international rugby fixtures list...or do these matches somehow not count?!!

  • Comment number 49.

    naled1 - I will go away and find out

  • Comment number 50.

    "The fact remains, women train harder for their sports than men."

    Not so sure you can call this a fact. Proof?

    Being a playing member at Esher Rugby Club I have had the good fortune of seeing these ladies first hand and can tell you the collisions are not soft in any way shape or form. The skill level, as already stated above is of a very high standard as is the general rugby intelligence on show. I have been nothing short of impressed whenever I have watched the England ladies and all of their opponents. I only hope the ladies game gains wider recognition for what it is - not instead of the men's game, but as well as the men's game.

    I would recommend to all who can, get to at least one game to see for yourself..

    Good luck to all who take part.

  • Comment number 51.

    Alan 'mingo' freeman!!!!

    Porty legend.

    coached at porty high school, captained the club, great player/guy, ate all the pies though.

    let the ladies play...

  • Comment number 52.

    I understood that in plurals the apostrophe should go after the s.

  • Comment number 53.

    Does anyone else read the comments and adopt a Scots accent when reading John's comments(note the apostrophe)?

    Just wonder if it is only me that seems to adopt accents in my head when reading things...

  • Comment number 54.

    Comments' are always well received. Och aye the noo.. :-)

  • Comment number 55.

    Did you manage to sort out the mystery of the absence of listings for the women's world cup matches on the BBC fixtures list, John? It all starts tomorrow and if, as you rightly point out, "Women's rugby deserves more respect", this needs correcting now-now

  • Comment number 56.

    I watched the Eng vs All Blacks Womens game in Autumn and thought the standard was really high.
    Sport is not about what sex you are, at it's best it should be about competition between 2 equally matched teams giving their all, which is why some local league games can be better spectacle than international games (England at Football World Cup anyone?)
    Sad that all womens sport seems to be under rated by TV

  • Comment number 57.

    naledi 1 no I haven't solved it, but I am going in to BBC later this morning and will have an answer. JB

  • Comment number 58.

    The women deserve huge respect - as they do in many sports - but the media coverage won't reflect this.
    Media coverage in this country is dominated by association football and mainly the Premiership. The BBC play along with all the other media outlets in trumpeting the Premiership because they and the rest of the media are only interested in readership/viewing/listening stats. The BBC, with its public funding, should stand above this association football frenzy but it doesn't. Perhaps, John, given you presumably have some contacts in the BBC, you could write a blog explaining why the BBC discriminate against women's sport so much.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am really happy to see womens rugby finally getting some coverage. I play rugby for a team in Glasgow and love it! It is true that it may not seem the most appropriate thing for "ladies" to be running around in the mud and tackling each other but we all have a great time.
    The profile of the game needs to be raised with more schools introducing the possibility of girls trying it out rather than telling them they should be doing dance aerobics, netball or hackey (hockey). Certainly more teams are springing up and they are getting the support of new, enthusiastic coaches but I think more can be done by the RFU and their counterparts in other countries.

    And in relation to petrin's comment about introducing mixed rugby, I can understand this being a good idea but I have spent my time off season playing mixed touch rugby where I got hit (by one of the guys) and broke my jaw. Admittedly it can't be certain that if it was a girl who hit me my jaw wouldn't have broken but the poor man was so mortified to have hurt me that he didn't come back and although we are trying to prove we aren't made of china we also aren't as sturdy as a man would be.

  • Comment number 60.

    Comment 7 - Bruce - the best 6 you have EVER seen male or female?

    So you are selecting a team to play on behalf of your life, you can select any 6 from world rugby at their peak. A lot of people would choose a certain Richard Hill, but you honestly believe a lady who plays amateur rugby is the BEST 6 in the world?

    The problem you have in these talks is that if you say the womens game is not as good as the mens then you get lambasted for being sexist. I have watched plenty of womens rugby and enjoyed it, for what it is. Take the England Ireland match, the English 7 was really rather good, and stood out like a sore thumb compared to lots of her team mates. The 9 looked like an out of condition SW league 4 prop, i had to double check the number on her back several times.

    That womens England team would be put to the slaughter by the England U19 boys side, in all aspects, power in the tight, speed out wide, technical ability in the set piece the list just goes on. Watch a video of the U19's in action and then watch England women and tell me that i am wrong.

    And thats why coverage is poor, people have limited social time, why would you go to watch a slower, less powerful, less skillful version of a game than is being played by top level schoolboys? Unless you have a tie to the team / game is some way. Sorry if that sounds overly harsh.

    ps. This does not mean women should not play rugby, enjoy it and be proud of their achievements. But it does rather grate when you hear some people trying to claim that female players could front up to their male equivalents. Just imagine what would happen if Shalk Burger appeared in a womens match, he would score 60 points.

  • Comment number 61.

    My daughter has played since the age of 11. Its a fantastic game and the Rugby ethos and camaraderie has helped her through her teens and has helped her at University as well. Best game I have seen? I went to watch my daughter play a game and on the next pitch Worcester were playing Richmond. Pace, power, skills applied at high speed, aggression, technique and a lack of kicking (sorry girls, I am an equal opportunities fanatic but girls can't kick...) which just added to the pace of the game.
    Th RFUW are not helpful in a lot of respects however. They keep trying to apply Mens Rugby structures to Ladies Rugby. Ladies Rugby does not have the critical mass to be segmented with a lot of restrictions and mis-applied bureaucracy. Example - an England under 20's squad player cannot be considered for selection unless they play in a Premiership or Championship side. Guess where many under 20's players play? University,surprise surprise. So now this inane rule means that many University teams will be deprived of their best players when there are already very small squads - the end result will be that University teams will fold due to lack of players and the game as a whole will not expand. Stupid elitism - too many people believing that "Administration" means thinking up specious ideas and self-importantly applying them.

  • Comment number 62.

    Bit off subject but I've been following the Hall of Fame choices. I voted for the 90's as the best era and was delighted to see that win. Now looking at the candidates for the individual vote and I think most of them are spot on and are worthy choices. The one I find a bit of an odd choice is Bryan Redpath. Obviously he was a great player and i'm not making any comment about his playing ability but would he be a Scotland legend above others? I would have had Gregor Townsend or Finlay Calder in there perhaps? All the other choices are 100% spot on! Big Gav for me!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    I am going to sound an old fashioned note, don't worry nae jokes about hookers. Women are, of course, free to play rugby if they want, many of them are fine athletes. Does women's rugby deserve more respect - if folk want to watch it that's fine by me. But I'm simply not one of them. To me, rugby was, and still is a man's game and at the top level, it always will be. That opinion is fairly widespread among rugby men of a certain era although I accept it is far from universal. I mean no disrespect to the womens' game, it is just not something that interests me.

  • Comment number 64.

    I watched England ladies win against New Zealand at Twickenham last year (which the mens team didn't manage)and England against Ireland on the TV. The standard was a high and quality of the games a lot more enjoyable than watching Coventry capitulate and get relegated last season from the championship. Currently though the quality rugby seems to reside in only a few sides, hence the one sided scores in some games. More coverage will help this improve in the future. The England back rower Alphonsi would not be out of place in many mens teams. I would not relish being tackeled by her.

    I will be at the Stoop on the 5th Sept hoping to cheer on England to another win over New Zealand.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yes of course they should and the matter should not even be under debate in my opinion. People should make the decision what sports they wish to or woman. Pleased to see the vast majority of comments on here are sensible and supportive and the blog has not become overloaded with the boorish comments about kitchen sinks and ironing, posted by a several insecure mysoginistic doughnuts in relation to a similar article on the Womens Football world Cup...a year or so ago. Maybe there is truth in the old adage that Rugby fans are better educated than football fans after all!

  • Comment number 66.

    Should women play rugby. I see no reason why not. However, what needs attention is this growing attitude that some women have that they want to play against men.

    I live in Richmond now but used to live in Ealing at Twyford Avenue. For those not familiar with this, it is where Middlesex Rugby and Wasps RFU training ground is located. It is also where Wasps Ladies RFC train and play. I must admit that on the sunny days of a nice Sunday afternoon I would go into the ground to watch the ladies play. Some of the moves they did from first and second phase were executed so brilliantly, I was embarassed to admit to myself they were better than my own team mates.

    However, during summer, a touch tournament was held. This tournament Wasps Ladies fielded a team which were allowed to play against the mens and mixed teams. It's a funny thing when you see more testosterone in a woman than a man on touch pitch. For a game of touch these ladies soon turned into snorting and snarling beasts whose intent was to clearly emasculate there opposite numbers. CRY FOUL did they when said men (including myself) did not yield.

    The direct running became worse that they were no longer playing touch. The men would stand their ground but did not raise arms or elbows as the opposition did. The effect was that the snarling snorting beasts from Venus eventually ran themselves ragged and the visitors from Mars eventually won the 10 minute game.

    Jeers and unsports(wo)man like comments were forthcoming yet the hand of sportmanship was still offered. "You wouldn't last against us in a 15's game" and " Try playing against us for 80 mins in a real match" were two comments I particularly remember.

    I have no doubt that the ladies of Wasps and other rugby clubs are that much more committed than most men at amateur levels. I have no doubt they could play my local team and give them a run for their money. However, this growing infatuation of feminism trying to prove themselves better than there male counterparts at competing sports is wrong. Eventually someone will get hurt, seriously.

    If a man then the banter will grow and the beratnig will begin.

    Yet if it is a woman, I can hear the tabloids screaming for the gallows.

    Let women play against women and men against men in this combative sport and never the twain shall they meet. Lest I fear we shall see more Boudica's taking to the field and a decline in chivalry which is still not lost in most rugby clubs.

    To the bar with you all and discuss the matter further!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    To improve on speed and physicality, our women's rugby clubs often have contact training sessions with their male counterparts or have full games against club under 17 boys teams under the under 19 laws. Size wise (with the under 17s), we tend to be evenly matched. Our skill levels and understanding of the game are definitely better than the young boys however young as they are they still are stronger and faster than we are but not such a huge gap in speed and strength between us and say the under 19 boys. We lost the first couple of games as the lads would hit us in the forwards, kick the ball a lot and run us ragged in the backs and we tried to play like them. After that we stopped kicking, retained the ball and applied guile rather than trying to match their strength and speed and we started winning games. Both the women and the boys have learned that brute strength is important in rugby but that's not all that is to the game. As women, we've also become more physical and our speed in executing moves has improved tremendously. I find that playing against boys the games tend to be a lot faster and more physical than when we're playing against women. Would we last against an under 19 boys team? No! Their strength and speed would blow us over.

    For some of the countries at the women's world cup, the skill levels of the teams are lower than those of an English under 19 boys team but one has to remember that those English boys started playing rugby since they were toddlers while a good number of those women starting playing rugby in their late teens or early 20s. However, look at the New Zealand and Aussie women and a couple of the English women, their ball handling skills, footwork and understanding of the game are just as good or better than that of the English under 19 boys. Can they play the under 19 boys? No. The power of those boys would make it meaningless and too dangerous.

    Women can play rugby and if the sides are good then the rugby played can be more entertaining than the men's game (less aimless kicking, more moves, more sidesteps, less pointless collisions) but I do agree with Terence that women need to play women only. Playing men is fine as long as it's not competitive i.e. it's just for fun or for training purposes and if women do choose to play men they shouldn't expect any favours unless they agreed on concessions before the game started.

  • Comment number 68.

    I wouldn't mind playing a bit of mixed rugby myself....


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