Womens Rugby Where Do We Go From Here ?


There are 2.2 million women and girls now playing rugby at all levels, an increase of 142% since 2012, making it one of the fastest growing team sports in the world.

Katie Sadlier is World Rugby’s general manager of womens rugby, and there is an awful lot of corporate jargon and business speak in what she has to say, from intergrated development pathways to best practice governance standards, but I guess ever since the day a clearance kick became a defensive exit strategy there was no going back grammatically.

But in plain English, by 2025 the governing body has an ambition is to be a global leader in sport, where women have equal opportunities on and off the field play.

To this end “World Rugby Women’s Plan 2017-2025” is due to be cibsidered by the World Rugby Council in November.

I have been told that this plan has involved a consultation process involving  fans, unions, regional associations and broadcast partners in an attempt to generate increased interest in the women’s game, attract new investment and maximise the sports commercial value.

There is no mention of the players being consulted, most of whom at this World Cup will end up severely out of pocket, and with all their annual leave used up, but sadly thats nothing new.

Women’s rugby is a sleeping giant, the queues of people outside the UCD Bowl last week begging for tickets to watch Ireland v Japan was something I hadn’t seen in rugby since Wales v France at Cardiff Arms Park in 1978.

Ireland v Japan UCD Bowl


The Irish Rugby Union could have trebled ticket sales for the pool stages of this years tournament had they chosen Donnybrook or a similar larger venue as opposed to University College.

Also media demands need to be met and catered for to spread the word, not just the newspaper journos but also those on social media and electronic mediums who with the touch of a button can bring the wonders of the great occasion to phones iPads and computers by the tens of thousands.

We await with interest the “World Rugby Women’s Plan 2017-2025” I’ve already got my dictionary on hand to decipher it.

If it mentions stakeholders, then mine’s a medium eight ounce rib eye.

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3 thoughts on “Womens Rugby Where Do We Go From Here ?

  1. Translating World Rugby documentation into English is a dark art…

    To begin at your beginning – their definition of “player” is interesting. Actually, they are very careful and use words like “participant”. I just point this out because the 2.2 million figure is… how can I put it… dodgy. Let’s just start with the fact that 1 million of that 2.2 million are unregistered girls aged U12 in England and the USA. That is to say, girls who are not and have never been members of any rugby club, but – in most English cases – play tag rugby in PE lessons (because their teacher tells them to). A lot more – and not just in these two countries – are girls who have pitched up at a come-and-try-it event (which also means there could be vast double counting if any of these girls turn up at more than one).

    But actually you do not need to know that. Just the fact that WR say that a quarter of all players are female should get alarm bells ringing. Are a quarter of all players at you club female? Or at any club you know? Can you name any country in the world where a quarter of all teams, say, are women’s teams?

    I know why WR exaggerate like this (to impress the IOC, to attract grants, because other sports do exactly the same thing, because they are on s statistical treadmill and the number must keep going up) and I am not remotely trying to say that women’s rugby is not expanding rapidly, its just that if you cannot trust WR’s headline announcements as being accurate what else do you have to take with a massive pinch of salt?

    Oh – and please do not blame the IRFU for putting these games at UCD instead of Donnybrook. They DID want the games to be at larger stadia, but WR demanded the campus model.

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    • Thanks for that John very informative particularly the bit about IRFU wanting larger model
      In my conversations World Rugby have tried to push the blame on Ireland So thanks for illuminating me have tried to get a response from the Irish but they don’t reply to my e mails and phone calls
      To be honest I’ve had more grief trying to cover the women’s game than the the men’s game at the highest level so I’m getting to the point where I’m thinking of leaving it well alone
      Thank goodness for scrumqueens
      Best wishes

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      • “To be honest I’ve had more grief trying to cover the women’s game than the the men’s game at the highest level”

        I am curiously encouraged by that!
        You get used to being seen as annoying in the end…

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