Alhambra Nievas A Century Of Sevens

Alhambra Nievas, the referee from Granada, is no stranger to records, or firsts, most of which I have been fortunate enough to witness as both a journalist and a friend.

On Thursday, in the warmth of Dubai, there was another one to add to the ever extending list.

At 12:44 local time she refereed  a match between Russia and England, nothing unusual there you might think, except for the fact that it was her 100th Women’s World Series Sevens match.

A journey that started on 15 February 2014, in Atlanta,Georgia, with a match between Australia and China, has taken Alhambra around the world and back, and there are still plenty more departure gates to negotiate and jet lagged days to come, for the Andulsian arbiter, who seems to be getting better with age.

She in her modest way will not want a big fuss, but when you look at the full list of the one hundred mtches listed below, it makes you realise what an achievement this really is.

Match 100 Dubai 

Match 100 Russia v England

Matches 99-1

Clermont Ferrand Cup Final    AUSTRALIA 7 – 22 NEW ZEALAND

25-06-17 Clermont Ferrand  Quarter-final CANADA 31 – 0 IRELAND

24-06-17 Clermont Ferrand  ENGLAND 31 – 24 BRAZIL

24-06-17 Clermont Ferrand FRANCE 31 – 14 FIJI

28-05-17 Langford Cup Semi-final CANADA 17 – 10 AUSTRALIA

28-05-17 Langford Trophy Semi-final FIJI 24 – 19 BRAZIL

27-05-17 Langford  NEW ZEALAND 43 – 7 ENGLAND

27-05-17 Langford  AUSTRALIA 21 – 0 IRELAND

23-04-17 Kitakyushu Bronze Medal AUSTRALIA 19 – 17 FIJI

23-04-17 Kitakyushu  Quarter-final FIJI 26 – 19 UNITED STATES

22-04-17 Kitakyushu  AUSTRALIA 17 – 12 FIJI

22-04-17 Kitakyushu  NEW ZEALAND 19 – 14 FRANCE

22-04-17 Kitakyushu  CANADA 29 – 12 ENGLAND

04-03-17 Las Vegas Final   AUSTRALIA 5 – 28 NEW ZEALAND

04-03-17 Las Vegas Quarter-final   NEW ZEALAND 26 – 5 RUSSIA

03-03-17 Las Vegas  UNITED STATES 14 – 7 FIJI

03-03-17 Las Vegas. FRANCE 19 – 22 RUSSIA

03-03-17 Las Vegas  AUSTRALIA 31 – 14 ENGLAND

02-12-16 Dubai Cup Final   NEW ZEALAND 17 – 5 AUSTRALIA

02-12-16 Dubai Cup Semi-final   ENGLAND 10 – 31 AUSTRALIA

01-12-16 Dubai Pool A  AUSTRALIA 19 – 10 UNITED STATES

01-12-16 Dubai Pool B   NEW ZEALAND 19 – 10 FIJI

01-12-16 Dubai Pool B   FRANCE 14 – 21 FIJI

29-05-16 Clermont Ferrand Final   CANADA 29 – 19 AUSTRALIA

29-05-16 Clermont Ferrand Semi-final   ENGLAND 10 – 31 CANADA

29-05-16 Clermont Ferrand Semi Final   JAPAN 0 – 33 IRELAND

28-05-16 Clermont Ferrand AUSTRALIA 19 – 12 FRANCE

28-05-16 Clermont Ferrand   CANADA 29 – 12 RUSSIA

28-05-16 Clermont Ferrand   FRANCE 40 – 0 IRELAND

17-04-16 Langford  Semi-final   AUSTRALIA 5 – 15 ENGLAND

17-04-16 Langford Quarter-final   UNITED STATES 7 – 29 ENGLAND

16-04-16 Langford  NEW ZEALAND 19 – 7 UNITED STATES

16-04-16 Langford  AUSTRALIA 28 – 7 BRAZIL

16-04-16 Langford   ENGLAND 29 – 5 IRELAND

09-04-16 Atlanta Cup Final   NEW ZEALAND 19 – 24 AUSTRALIA

09-04-16 Atlanta Cup Semi-final   CANADA 14 – 26 AUSTRALIA

09-04-16 Atlanta Cup Quarter-final   ENGLAND 19 – 12 RUSSIA

08-04-16 Atlanta   NEW ZEALAND 5 – 12 UNITED STATES

08-04-16 Atlanta    FIJI 7 – 28 ENGLAND

08-04-16 Atlanta    CANADA 26 – 5 RUSSIA

21-02-16 Sao Paulo Cup Final   AUSTRALIA 29 – 0 CANADA

21-02-16 Sao Paulo Plate Semi Final   FIJI 26 – 12 ENGLAND

21-02-16 Sao Paulo Cup Quarter-final   USA 22 – 12 ENGLAND

20-02-16 Sao Paulo    RUSSIA 10 – 40 NEW ZEALAND

20-02-16 Sao Paulo    AUSTRALIA 19 – 5 IRELAND

20-02-16 Sao Paulo    NEW ZEALAND 35 – 5 UNITED STATES

20-02-16 Sao Paulo   AUSTRALIA 26 – 17 FIJI

04-12-15 Dubai Cup Semi-final   FRANCE 0 – 26 AUSTRALIA

04-12-15 Dubai Cup Quarter-final   CANADA 12 – 17 ENGLAND

03-12-15 Dubai Pool C   AUSTRALIA 43 – 0 JAPAN

03-12-15 Dubai Pool A   NEW ZEALAND 7 – 33 RUSSIA

23-05-15 Amsterdam Cup Final   AUSTRALIA 17 – 20 CANADA

23-05-15 Amsterdam Semi-final   AUSTRALIA 26 – 0 ENGLAND

23-05-15 Amsterdam  Quarter-final   CANADA 33 – 0 FRANCE

22-05-15 Amsterdam   AUSTRALIA 24 – 7 ENGLAND

22-05-15 Amsterdam   UNITED STATES 36 – 14 FIJI

22-05-15 Amsterdam   AUSTRALIA 29 – 7 RUSSIA

16-05-15 London Cup Final   CANADA 17 – 20 AUSTRALIA

16-05-15 London 11-12th Place   SOUTH AFRICA 14 – 7 BRAZIL

16-05-15 London Quarter-final   UNITED STATES 19 – 12 FRANCE

15-05-15 London  CANADA 31 – 0 ENGLAND

15-05-15 London   UNITED STATES 24 – 19 FIJI

15-05-15 London   NEW ZEALAND 34 – 0 BRAZIL

19-04-15 Langford Cup Final   RUSSIA 10 – 29 NEW ZEALAND

19-04-15 Langford Semi Final   AUSTRALIA 10 – 29 UNITED STATES

19-04-15 Langford  Quarter-final   UNITED STATES 0 – 17 FRANCE

18-04-15 Langford   CANADA 19 – 15 UNITED STATES

18-04-15 Langford   AUSTRALIA 40 – 0 CHINA

18-04-15 Langford   NEW ZEALAND 38 – 14 FIJI

15-03-15 Atlanta Semi-final   UNITED STATES 19 – 14 RUSSIA

15-03-15 Atlanta Quarter-final   NEW ZEALAND 36 – 0 BRAZIL

14-03-15 Atlanta  NEW ZEALAND 57 – 0 UNITED STATES

14-03-15 Atlanta  ENGLAND 24 – 0 BRAZIL

14-03-15 Atlanta   AUSTRALIA 36 – 0 FIJI

08-02-15 Sao Paulo 3-4th Place   FRANCE 0 – 19 CANADA

08-02-15 Sao Paulo 11-12th Place   SOUTH AFRICA 17 – 31 CHINA

08-02-15 São Paulo  Semi Final   FIJI 24 – 22 SOUTH AFRICA

07-02-15 Sao Paulo  AUSTRALIA 38 – 7 FIJI

07-02-15 Sao Paulo FRANCE 14 – 12 UNITED STATES

07-02-15 Sao Paulo  ENGLAND 31 – 5 SOUTH AFRICA

05-12-14 Dubai  Semi-final   FRANCE 10 – 31 NEW ZEALAND

05-12-14 Dubai Quarter-final   AUSTRALIA 47 – 0 FIJI

04-12-14 Dubai  NEW ZEALAND 29 – 12 RUSSIA

04-12-14 Dubai  ENGLAND 29 – 7 BRAZIL

04-12-14 Dubai  AUSTRALIA 24 – 10 FRANCE

17-05-14 Amsterdam Bowl Final   S AFRICA 7 – 29 NETHERLANDS

17-05-14 Amsterdam Cup Quarter-final   AUSTRALIA 33 – 0 BRAZIL

16-05-14 Amsterdam AUSTRALIA 36 – 5 RUSSIA

16-05-14 Amsterdam CANADA 28 – 0 BRAZIL

22-02-14 Sao Paulo 7-8th Place   JAPAN 13 – 5 NETHERLANDS

22-02-14 Sao Paulo Semi-final   AUSTRALIA 31 – 0 ENGLAND

22-02-14 Sao Paulo  Quarter-final   N ZEALAND 35 – 7 NETHERLANDS

21-02-14 Sao Paulo   BRAZIL 14 – 20 NETHERLANDS

21-02-14 Sao Paulo RUSSIA 29 – 0 ARGENTINA

21-02-14 Sao Paulo  NEW ZEALAND 36 – 0 IRELAND

16-02-14 Atlanta 11-12th Place   IRELAND 5 – 20 BRAZIL

16-02-14 Atlanta  Quarter-final   NEW ZEALAND 42 – 0 JAPAN

15-02-14 Atlanta  BRAZIL 7 – 21 JAPAN

15-02-14 Atlanta  AUSTRALIA 31 – 0 CHINA


International Rugby The Weekend Blooms

Autumn in the garden, and on the international rugby field  is a time for laying down firm roots, for nurturing and pruning, with an eye to reaching full bloom sometime  in the future.

Repeat-flowering red roses will have several flushes of flowers from late spring and can still be in bloom up until the first frosts.

Last weekend we witnessed a final Autumn showcase, and on an ex cabbage patch, by the Red Roses themselves, England women.

This particular bloom have shown an array of shade and light,  perhaps the pick of the bunch being Jess Breach, scoring 11 tries in two and half games of rugby against Canada.

A more established but slightly less appealing bunch of Red Roses showed some of their true colours, when matched against the exotic south sea islanders, who found it difficult to establish themselves in a much harsher and cooler climate than their natural habitat.

In Wales the green green grass of home, having looked tired, patchy and dull since the last World Cup, showed shoots of recovery, but with the roof closed the rain and sunshine required to speed up germination of the new hybrid were missing, and ultimately that hardy perennial, the All Black, choked and suffocated anything that crossed its path.

Across the channel everything in the “Jardin” is far from rosy, there is some severe pruning,and possibly lopping, to be done, and the biggest grow bag in history is required if we are to see anything of beauty come the spring.

Flourishing Cherry Blossoms were evident, at the new U Arena in Paris, as the warmth of the land of the rising sun sent a cold wintry shiver down the collective spine of French rugby.

Bernard Laporte may well be sharpening his secateurs at this very moment.

And finally the best of show must surely go to the Flower of Scotland there were fears of a trampling underfoot from a marauding marsupial, a totally unfounded notion as it turned out, a truly outstanding display in the darkest corner of the United Kingdom where daylight is sparse at this time of year, and who knows it may even rise up again in early February.

So we now set our sights on lighter and longer days and hope that all our seedlings and our established blooms stay safe and free from damage to brighten up our February and March.

Georgia On My Mind

Max Boyce used to delight us with tales of a Welsh fly half factory in the valleys which sadly closed many years ago, but in Georgia business is booming as one particularly rugby factory is taking productivity through the roof.

Georgia’s main export is copper ore, but there is one other major commodity in which it has global dominance.

I am of course referring to the Top 14 Prop assembly plant that makes front row forwards, purely for export, and has a France as its major importer.

In the current national squad all six props ply their trade in France, as incidentally do two hookers and three locks.

Asieshvili, Bekoshvili, Chilachava, Kubriashvili, Naaiashvili and Zhvania all play their rugby at top French clubs.

The legend of French props having been hewn from rocks in Pyrenees, has now been replaced with the modern-day hard as nails versions from the caucuses, with, as dear old Bill McLaren used to say, faces like a bag of chisels.

Every time Georgia turn out in a sporting capacity the headlines referring to “Rainy Nights in” and “Midnight Trains to” plus my guilty as charged “Georgia on my mind” are trotted out repeatedly.

Last Saturday, in a country where rainy nights, and days for that matter, are a fact of life, the Georgian national rugby team played an international match against Wales for the very first time.

There are some striking similarities between the two countries, Wales and Georgia both have a population of around three million, and both countries have a historical tradition of a vibrant coal mining industry, now sadly defunct.

Ironically the rain stayed away, thanks to a roof, and as the chances of getting a mid day train with Arriva are slim, let alone a midnight one, the traditional puns have had to be put in cold storage.

55,310 spectators turned up to witness the occasion, the visitors national anthem, which speaks of “Our icon is our motherland” followed by the gender opposite “Land of my fathers” were probably the most entertaining aspects of the day.

A young Welsh side almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, as the factory products totally dominated scrum time, against a Welsh side that wanted to run everything.

Those who live by the scrum shall perish by the scrum, and ultimately the situation resulting in the uncontested scrum furore probably cost Georgia a draw, that would have meant that factory near Tbilisi would have been shut for a national holiday on Monday.

The Georgian forwards were magnificent, but their backs were so-so, quite literally as Soso  Matiashvili, one of their more talented runners, plays at full back.

The next time the two teams are scheduled to meet is in Japan on 23 September 2019, at the Toyota stadium in a Rugby World Cup pool game.

So to go back to the lyrics of the song, written by Hoagy Carmichael, that have spawned a host of headlines this past week

🎼 “Just an old sweet song scrum keeps Georgia on my mind” 🎼

Quintessential Togetherness With Harlequins Ladies

It is a damp mild Autumn night in Guildford, the car headlights from the A3 high above the floodlit pitches, reflect through the leafless trees, and shimmer off the illuminated green turf at Surrey Sports Park.

Amid the distant whining engine noise from the cars of the weary commuters driving home from work, Harlequin ladies go through their warm ups under the watchful eye of coaches Gary Street and Karen Findlay.

This is a typical Thursday night training session for the current Tyrrells Premier league leaders, who sit at the top of the table with seven bonus point wins from their opening seven matches.

The chemistry teacher, the office worker, are all here straight from a busy days work, something many of us forget when we watch their relatively pampered male counterparts go about their business.

What hits you straight away about this group of players and management, is the togetherness, the friendliness and the lack of cliques in the entire squad, there is no international hierarchy here which is great to see.

But those thorough Hubble and decent qualities are in addition to a steeliness and determination, shown on and off the field, by players coaches, and support staff, the reason Quins are sitting on top of the league is through the sheer hard work and dedication  of everyone involved.

Harlequins Ladies are part of the clubs overall women’s and girls strategy, which encompasses the Harlequins Foundations’ Switch Programme, the Harlequin Amateurs girls section, and the Harlequins Ladies 3rd XV.

At the Womens Rugby World in Ireland last August, Harlequins were represented by nine players across five different nations.

Rachael Burford, Vickii Cornborough and Leanne Riley were selected for England, while Michela Sillari and Manuela Furlan donned the blue of Italy.

Jess Wooden and Kimber Rozier represented the United States, whilst Rebecca Rowe and Sene Naoupu competed for Wales and the hosts Ireland respectively.

Deborah McCormack is also a seasoned Scottish international, but sadly the Scots missed  out on qualification for this years tournament .

Most of their home games are played at Surrey Sports Park, in Guildford, although some games have been, and are scheduled, to take place at the Stoop.

I have been fortunate enough to see most of their home games so far this season, and what impresses me, apart from their style of rugby, is the way the players and management mingle with the fans, chat about the game, and are so friendly and approachable, plus, at Guildford, there is a Starbucks less than one minutes walk from the main pitch, what more could anyone want.

As a rugby journalist  it is a breath of fresh air, these days ,to be able to talk and interact so freely with the players and coaches, and their patience seems to know no bounds, but i’m sure Rachael Burford and Deborah McCormack must think i’m stalking them.

The great ethos and values of rugby, that we cherish so dearly, are alive and well and positively flourishing in this group, and that is the greatest testament and compliment that I can pay them.

Meanwhile back at training, the final latte of the day has been poured at Starbucks, and the traffic on the A3 has descended into a gentle rumble, but last orders on the field are still some distance away as the hard work goes on, and guess what they’re all still smiling.

“Nunquam Dormio






Deborah McCormack Flower Of Scotland 

Locks can be bruising abrasive sombre characters, it is a dark desolate unforgiving  place in the second row, and the lack of daylight no doubt plays a huge part in their demeanour, but this particular lock is a friendly modest and down to earth computer sciences teacher, who plies her club trade with Harlequins, and internationally in the dark blue shirt of Scotland.

This particular Flower of Scotland is a rare species, blooming in winter, for both club and country, and has sent many an opposition forward homeward to think again.

The deep roots of this particular bloom stretch a very long way, in fact all the way from Scotland to the more temperate surroundings of the garden of England, Kent.

She qualifies  to play for Scotland through her gran, who left Motherwell during the Second World War and headed to London to help the war effort, there could surely be no be no worthier qualification criteria than that.

Born in Gillingham, Deborah started playing at the age of ten for Medway RFC, when her brother also began to turn out for the club.

She was encouraged by Karen Findlay, whilst at Richmond, to attend Scottish trials which with the extortionate travel costs for a starving student left her deeply out-of-pocket, but the rest as they say is history, and she made her Scotland debut against Ireland in the 2014 six nations.

Since then she has won twenty-four caps for Scotland, scoring two tries, both against Spain in 2016 and 2017.

Juggling work and rugby takes some doing, particularly when you have to negotiate the M25 at rush hour, twice a week, to attend training, and then the return journey home after gruelling sessions at Surrey Sports Park.

In common with the majority of all the top women players she is indebted to her family without whose support, at so many levels, it would almost be impossible to function.

A Fort Pitt Grammer school former pupil, Debs views Medway RFC as the greatest influence on her career.

They had a thriving women’s rugby scene at Medway RFC, at a time when the women’s game did not have the popularity and participation availability it currently enjoys, and they at Medway they continue to thrive.

Away from rugby there is very little spare time, but what precious time there is, she spends in the company of a very handsome and dashing male with gorgeous blue eyes, but more on that later.

A heartbreaking defeat against Spain, in two-legged play off matches, resulted in Scotland failing to qualify for this years women’s rugby world cup in Ireland, a shattering blow, which inevitably was, and still is, difficult to come to terms with, but those days are past now and in the past they must remain, and with the amount of talent at their disposal, the current Scotland squad really look like they can now rise up and be the nation again, and the 2018 Six nations seems the perfect place to lay down a marker to that effect.

Debs would love to be around for the next women’s rugby world cup in 2021, which would be a fitting way end to her career, so we all hope that this particular flower of Scotland will be nurtured and tended carefully, so that she can bloom annually for a good few years to come.

The immediate future presents a pre six nations warm up game in the thistled jersey against Spain, before a packed 6 nations tournament with two home fixtures against England and Italy, and away trips to France, Wales and Ireland.

There is also the Tyrrells premier league, with Harlequins, who are flying high in the table and playing a brand of rugby which is a joy to watch.

When her playing days are over she has no idea what she will do, and at the moment is totally focussed on the here and now.

A hugely popular figure at Harlequins, her down to earth and friendly manner, as well as her playing ability, have earnt her huge respect and popularity, it is wonderful and reassuring to see that the values and spirit of our great game are in safe hands with people like Debs around.

I have met quite a few locks in my time, but this one is definitely the nicest, as Benji will testify, by-the-way Benji is a gorgeous black Labrador.


Come to Twickenham Stoop on 10 March 2018 to see Debs and her team mates in action in the big local derby against Richmond.

Harlequins are hoping to create a world record crowd for a women’s club game on that day so come along and be part of rugby history 

Barbarians And All Blacks A Match Made In Heaven

There is no getting away from it, I am old, and sometimes I stare wistfully and with envy at the youthful figures I see before me striding their fields of dreams.

But one huge plus of nearing my sixtieth birthday is that I was alive in 1973, when “that” match was played at Cardiff Arms Park, not only was I alive, but I was there that day as an acne afflicted fifteen year old, standing in the north enclosure.

I was level with Phil Bennett when he started sidestepping in his twenty-five (twenty two’s hadn’t been invented back then) at the start of a try that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I watch it.

If I close my eyes I can go back there in an instant, I can smell the damp grass, the liniment, the Brains dark on the adults breath around me, it was the most magical of days.

Fast forward some forty-four years later and this Saturday  I will be in the press box at Twickenham, the exuberance of youth and wide-eyed innocence has long gone, but the thought of seeing those two sets of famous jerseys run out on to the lush turf at HQ still sets my pulse racing.

One of the main protagonists of that great game in ’73’ hardly ever gets a mention, yet it was his empathy, and feel for the game, that played a huge part in allowing it to be such a classic, I am referring to Georges Domerq the French referee, he was a diminutive figure socks rolled down clad in green and dwarfed by the Giants all around him.

Georges,pictured above, is now 86 and lives in Bellocq where he has been mayor of the town since before the 1973 epic.

It is not widely known that the match created such euphoria in France, that a crowd gathered to cheer and greet the Frenchman at the airport, when the aircraft bringing home landed in France.

Domerq was invited to referee the Barbarians “re match”with the All Blacks, the following year at Twickenham, when a Mervyn Davies try saved the day and the match ended with honours even at 13-13, the only match New Zealand failed to win on that tour.

There is a symmetry between 1973 and 2017, in that on Saturday we have a man in the middle with an equal empathy, and an equal feel for the game, Nigel Owens.

Ok there may not be a cheering crowd to greet Nigel at the Pont Abraham services, on the M4, when he returns from London, and he is not mayor of Carmarthen, (well not yet anyway) but he is the King of hearts in Wales and indeed in many other realms.

The sales of “Ref Radio” increase dramatically when Mr Owens is on duty, I think it’s about time he got a royalty contract with the providers.

Whilst there is symmetry in the whistle blowers the same cannot be said of the players.

The 1973 team that faced the All Blacks, contained the bulk of the victorious Lions 1971 side that were series winners in the land of the long white cloud.

Also the 1974 Baa Baas contained the Lions pack that were unbeaten in their 1974 tour of South Africa.

Sadly in this professional era the Barbarians can longer call on the cream of British rugby, but there is still a very special feeling about a Baa Baas match with New Zealand.

On Saturday I will think back with nostalgic reverence to the seventies, and I guarantee you that somewhere in the Twickenham crowd, there will be a fifteen year old who will enjoy a magical day, that will stay with him of her for ever, such is the magic of a Barbarians v New Zealand match.

“For it’s a way we have in the Baa Baas and a jolly good way too”.


The Barbarians Get In Touch With Their Feminine Side

The Barbarians are to launch a women’s team that will take the field for the first time this season. 

The famous invitation club founded in 1890 becomes twice as exciting when the women’s side makes its debut against Munster at Thomond Park on Friday, November 10.

England World Cup winner Giselle Mather will coach the team in the first of a number of matches planned for the 2017-18 season. Managed by Fiona Stockley, the Barbarians will play against club, provincial and international sides with a full schedule to be confirmed later this year.

“We’re delighted to open a new chapter in the Barbarian FC’s history with the creation of our women’s team this season,” said Barbarians Chairman John Spencer.

“Its formation is something we’ve been working towards for a number of years and it is a reflection of the excellence of the global women’s game which was showcased so brilliantly at this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

“Our aim is to welcome more talented players into this iconic club to forge new friendships and play with the style and passion for which the Barbarians are famous. We are working with clubs and unions around the world to make sure it benefits the players and the game.”

The Barbarians will field players from seven different nations in their opening women’s game. Those who have already accepted invitations have 440 international caps between them. They are Susie Brown (Scotland), Fiona Coghlan (Ireland), Claire Cripps and Megan Goddard (England), Elen Evans (Wales), Emma Jenson (New Zealand), Christelle Le Duff (France) and Kelly Russell (Canada).

“The Barbarians are one of the reasons I fell in love with rugby and to be coaching this side is a massive honour,” said Mather, the Wasps Director of Rugby and a World Cup winning player in 1994.

“I can’t wait to get these players from all different nationalities together with everything they bring from their different environments. It’s going to be a massive opportunity for all these athletes.

“The state of the women’s game is phenomenal at the moment following events like the World Cup and the launch of the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s in England. With the Barbarians coming in on top of that it’s taking the game to a different level.”

Women’s Sport Trust Joint CEO Jo Bostock said: “Women’s rugby has made great strides in 2017 in terms of high-quality competition, investment and infrastructure, and we support the launch of the Barbarians women’s team. It is a further indication of the progress of women’s sport as a whole. 

“The Barbarians are an iconic rugby club with a long history of giving athletes from different countries the chance to form friendships and perform with the freedom that makes them better players. Extending that opportunity to the growing number of talented women’s players is to be applauded.”

Abi Chamberlain, Head of Leadership Development at Paysafe and a former England Sevens rugby captain, said: “Paysafe is absolutely thrilled to sponsor the Barbarians women’s team. This is an extremely important step forward for women’s rugby and we applaud the innovation and commitment of the Barbarians. 

“Following England’s superb performance in the recent World Cup, women’s rugby has hit new heights of popularity. It is important that cutting-edge advancements in the women’s game continue apace, and Paysafe is proud to be part of this new initiative and to champion the women’s game.”

World Rugby’s General Manager, Women’s Rugby, Katie Sadleir said: “It’s an incredibly exciting development in international rugby to see the first women’s Barbarians team being formed. The talented players that have been recruited from around the world for this team provide an excellent opportunity to deliver more inspirational rugby maintaining the momentum created during the recent World Cup in Ireland.

“It’s fantastic to see the financial partnerships that have come together to support this historic initiative.”