SA Rugby Must Contract World Cup Bound Women Players By Cheryl Roberts

9 Aug

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They’ve done it before and they’ve done it again, despite their being caught up in a self-imposed SA Rugby women’s international moratorium. That’s the SA team’s qualification for the 2021 women’s rugby world cup.

Yes, the women Springboks have qualified for women’s rugby’s global tournament, a tournament they’ve played in before and involving the world’s best rugby playing countries trying to be crowned world champions. This year, SA qualified via the Africa Cup played in SA in August, featuring a handful of other African teams; a continental tournament that showed SA being far ahead of their African counterparts.

Now that SA has qualified and the global championship is still over a year ahead, SA Rugby must look after the national women’s squad, ensure they are happy playing rugby and representing their country.

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Women’s rugby in SA doesn’t get the same benefits and privileges as that given to men’s rugby. Actually, boys rugby gets much more than women’s rugby. South Africa’s women’s rugby gets some handouts here and there from a very rich, corporate backed rugby federation. The women rugby players play as amateurs, with training done after work/stud hours. They get to play just one round of about 5 matches in a national interprovincial championship. Some months ago, the SA women’s rugby team started again with international competition and undertook a tour of Europe.

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Women’s rugby is fast developing and improving, especially youth girls rugby. But SA Rugby is not responding adequately to these fast improvements and flourishing enthusiasm to play rugby.

If South Africa’s women’s rugby team is to perform with good results at the 2021 world cup, they must be supported with much international competition to test their improvements and weaknesses and know their level of play.

Most of the national team women players are trying to study and work, or hold down a job or are unemployed with some players being nationally contracted 7’s players. The women Springbok squad must be nationally contracted, in full-time training in preparation for the journey ahead towards the 2021 world cup. Knowing they getting a monthly salary without having to worry and hassle about how to survive, will truly go a long way in ensuring the player’s happiness and confidence. This contracted safety will take their mental state to another level and should impact positively on their field of play.

But how prepared are SA Rugby to really prepare the national women’s rugby team with the best support, just as they do with the men’s national squad/team?

SA Rugby has a record of not giving much to women’s rugby. But this past record will have to change dramatically as we get SA’s national women’s rugby team adequately supported to perform well and display quality rugby at the women’s rugby world cup. SA is already far behind the world’s top and best women’s rugby playing countries. It does not mean we must stay lowly ranked internationally.

SA Rugby has a responsibility and must work out how its going to support our country’s world cup bound women’s rugby team. One of the poor excuses often offered by SA Rugby is that ‘we have no money’ and ‘women’s rugby can’t get sponsors’.

If SA Rugby is honest and serious about supporting women’s rugby to grow, then they will work at finding sponsors and corporates to be associatede with the women Springboks. We have the time, leading up to the world cup, to develop and support SA’s national women’s 15’s rugby team. What SA Rugby must show is the determination and passion to do this. We await to see SA Rugby’s responses.

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