Having joined the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group as an Associate Member I found myself wandering through the Houses of Parliament having been through some stringent security first of course. In spite of the fact my brother Keith Hogg made a presentation to the group on behalf of Scotland Rugby League this was my first involvement and I’ll be honest and say I was rather starstruck to be in the building.
The meeting was in a familiar format with minutes from the previous meeting being perused before the agenda was followed. It was interesting to hear the areas this body is involved in and great to know there is a group of interested MP’s doing what they can to safeguard and support the game of rugby league.
Once the standard business of the evening had been dealt with Sarah-Jane Gary The RFL Development and Public Affairs Director gave a presentation about Women in Rugby League with back up from Ebony Giblin the National Education Manager.
As far as those attending and watching games women make up over 40% of the crowd, and in my experience those women and girls have just as much passion and knowledge as their male counterparts. On the playing front during 2016 there were 1227 players playing in over 100 games for 42 teams and there was an overall growth of 8 per cent in participation.
The England team played France in October in Avignon and beat them 36 to 6 running in 5 second half tries with no reply. Next year sees the Women’s World Cup running concurrently with the Men’s in Australia, which is a first. England will play Australia and the Cook Islands and they’ll play their group games at Cronulla Sharks’ Southern Cross Group Stadium. The final will see a double header with the Men’s Final, all huge positives for the Women’s game.
Within the domestic game, for women things are about to change, the intention is to introduce an aspirational elite league with 6 teams initially mirroring either a Super League or Championship club. It will give a pathway to those already playing in the current set up. It’s proposed that a game will take place before a Super League game, both will be televised opening up the concept of women participating in the game.
Ebony spoke about the game in the education setting and it’s clear rugby league is popular amongst girls in school, the RFL are working hard on increasing the pathways for those taking the game up at a young age.
I’m going to recreate the final slide from Sarah-Jane’s presentation, it’s clear the RFL mean to involve women across the board.
New Framework for Women in Rugby League launching in 2017 – the wider game has overwhelming support for:
Pro-club branded teams in a new, aspirational league
Change and working together
Single player development framework building to England Women’s RL
New network for women working and volunteering in the sport
‘Women in Rugby League’ dedicated round at Superleague and all tiers of the game
It’s an exciting time for Women in this game, 2017 should be an great year!