Women’s Rugby Must Be Fiercely Supported By SA Rugby By Cheryl Roberts

4 Oct

 

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Rugby in South Africa and the world over is male-domanted and controlled. Amidst the male-centeredness of rugby and the hegemonic power it ensures for men in sport, girls and women are now claiming the sport as their fav and passion. And with this growing enthusiasm, arrives all the surfacing of incredible raw talent at girl level rugby and women in rugby. Now that they into the game, women rugby players want to play more and more rugby, especially competitive rugby and international matches.

There’s no debate about this: SA Rugby concentrates on development of boys and men in rugby, with little support given to the growth of women’s rugby.

That women’s rugby is fast growing around the world, especially in Africa, is noted by SA Rugby. Yet, SA Rugby still gives a small handout budget to women’s rugby. Not much can be done with this small financial resource!

Club rugby is there and a national provincial competition is the premier and only domestic tournament for senior women’s rugby. This tournament is shockingly played over only one round, with just five matches being played, over about 2-3 months. The top 2 teams from the round robin event get to contest the finals of the SA IPT, with the winner being crowned South African champions. How is women’s rugby expected to develop with just one national compeition, just one round of five mtches for each team and then its all over? Nothing more for the senior women rugby players. Fortunately, this year the women’s Springbok team is going on tour and will play some internaional matches, after not having played much for about 3 years.

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SA Rugby, controlled by male officialdom gives the same old, same old argument that women’s rugby can’t get sponsors and SA Rugby self finances the women’s game. But why is there always no money for women in rugby but there’s always sponsors for boys and men’s rugby? Why must development of women in the game be neglected because there’s supposedly no sponsored money?

SA Rugby official, Pat Kuhn is very keen to have women’s rugby developed much more and given a much bigger budget. “I’m very much aware of the fast growth of girls in rugby and women’s rugby. Its an ongoing challenge and battle to get more money and much bigger budgets within SA Rugby,’ says Mr Kuhn who was the only SA Rugby official present at the women’s interpovincial final, played in East London on Saturday. ‘I agree that most focus is on men’s rugby with women’s rugby not being able to get much done to show further development and growth. We are seeing investments on our returns after investing in girls rugby and getting the youth training centres set up in all provinces. And out of this ambitious programme is the overfowing girls rugby talent that must be nurtured and carefully looked after,’ said Mr Kuhn.

In my opinion, SA Rugby has got to stop seeing women’s rugby as a burdensome side entity and must involve growth of girls and women’s rugby in all their national planning programmes, strategic planning and going forward deliberations. And budgets for women’s rugby must be prioritised!

Look at the playing of this year’s women’s A and B Section inter-provincial finals that were played in East London. Why didn’t SA Rugby play the women’s matches as curtain-raisers to the men’s Springboks match in PE?

About 3 years ago after the last women’s rugby world cup, SA Rugby took the decision to impose a self-moratorium on international matches for women. This was done to focus on establishing girls youth training centres throughout SA, to grow the game at youth girls level and surface youth talent that could filter into the women’s rugby teams. Now the girl rugby talent has emerged and its overflowing.

 

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Women’s rugby in SA needs and must have much more domestic competition and international play. A double round of inter-provincial competition must be held in 2019. How about a top eight national event, too? Competition must start in March and go on until about October. Introduce two more national events for women’s rugby. Girls also need international experience and with this internaional tours like an SA schools girls rugby tour must be undertaken.

SA Rugby can say – how often they want to – about how they are genuine about advancing women’s rugby. But for as long as we don’t see more domestic competition and international matches for women’s 15’s and sevens, then SA Rugby will be called out for neglecting women’s rugby. Come 2019 and there’s no way we want to see only a one round interprovincial competion for women’s rugby, being played. A double round, on a home and away format must be introduced! And more national competitions. And instruct provinces to do much more for girls and women in rugby, not to neglect the gender in rugby.

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