On Sunday I was at Lords watching the England Women’s Cricket Team win the World Cup in nail biting fashion. It was a great occasion with 2 excellent teams battling it out in front of a capacity crowd. The balance of that crowd was far more female orientated than the crowds I’m used to sitting in watching the England men. it also had high numbers of children. The fact that their tickets were only £5 will have been a great factor. Many of the girls were there to see their idols in action. A saying was used on BBC TMS that had been taken from a lady called Marian Wright Edelman
You Can’t Be What You Can’t See Can’t Be What You Can’t See
Marian is an American Activist for the Rights of Children and I imagine she was talking about all areas of life, but it most certainly rings true to this day for many things, including sport. At Lords a whole raft of girls were seeing women playing top class sport.
That same evening England Women’s Football team beat Spain 2 nil and have since beaten Portugal to go through to the quarter finals of the European Championship.
Heather Knight speaking on BBC 5 said on Monday –
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Woman in Sport
So. a lot of positives for Women over the weekend, but, on Monday a news item came to my notice that had been broken by the Scrum Queens account on Twitter 2 weeks previously. The Rugby Paper had picked it up so it was reaching a wider audience.
The RFU in their wisdom had made the decision to discontinue the contracts for the players in the XV format of the game, the format that has a World Cup starting on August 9th in Dublin. The format in which England Women won the World Cup in 2014.
Instead the RFU will ‘switch’ the funding to the 7’s format of the game, so basically if you’re a pure XV’s player you’re on your own after this World Cup for 2 years until that funding switches again – ‘This Girl Can” has become a battle cry for women in the social media world – well, this rugby girl can, if she can afford to!
There has rightly been a social media outcry and the Shadow Sports Minister, Dr Rosena Ali-Kahn, has written to the RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie to say that the governing body’s move in switching funding next year to the 7’s game showed it was
‘Far less than fully committed’ to women players than their male couterparts’ ‘The most concerning aspect of this news is that what it says about the RFU’s ongoing commitment to the women’s game’ ‘ For an organisation with a total annual revenue in the hundreds of millions to make this decision is deeply disappointing’
I interviewed Dean White several months ago about the proposed new elite club structure for women’s rugby, at the time was he coaching the Thurrock T birds team, a club that has had a hand in producing several England players, he was rightly worried that the top tier would be closed and his club would be excluded. He was right, but Lichfield Ladies who were highly successful in the top flight last season were amazingly also excluded. Things seem to be going awry all over the place for the women’s game!
Dean has voiced his thoughts over this latest news
So women’s rugby has been in the headlines over the past few days and none of it has been positive. The people running the women’s game have got it completely wrong and they need to realise it quickly, before it is too late.
The have ruined clubs under the new Prem, taken away contracts for 15’s players and taken away the academy set up. I’m glad that the media have really taken this story on because they have been getting away with it for years. The ‘steering group’ that looked at women’s rugby have disappeared into the long grass after delivering what the RFU wanted and not the club’s….We should be asking them questions too.
The RFU are pushing towards ‘centres of excellence’ which basically means the Prem clubs taking all the best players and working with them. What the RFU don’t understand is that these young players don’t want to drive for over two hours each way just because the RFU refuse to develop the game country wide. Clubs will also not work with this setup if they are ambitious, why would they continue to develop players so that other clubs come along and take them? How do clubs under the Prem get sponsors to invest in a side that just produces players for other teams? This setup also stops competition at the top, where championship sides can compete and improve the standards through competitive game’s.
The RFU now need to rethink their position and work with the club’s….but we all know that this won’t happen.
I hope the England women win the world cup, this will be good for the game and also put even more pressure on the people at the top.
Remember that the RFU are the guardian’s of the game, if we (clubs, players, coaches, management, supporters) are not happy with how the game is being run, then we should hold them to task.