What Will SA Rugby Do For Women’s Rugby In 2020? By Cheryl Roberts

14 Jan


Severe gender inequalities exist in rugby in South Africa when it comes to competitions, sponsorship, national contracts, payments, international matches that SA Rugby offers women’s and men’s rugby. In a sport that is horrendously male-dominated, it’s men’s rugby that gets all the money, applause and attention. Women’s rugby gets the leftovers, the little handouts here and there. And its always about there being no money for women’s rugby because sponsors don’t ‘want to fund women’s rugby’.

So what does SA Rugby have in store for women’s rugby starting in 2020, given that girls rugby is growing in popularity and women’s rugby teams need much more international competition?

Now that South Africa has qualified for the 2021 women’s rugby world cup, after last playing in a world cup in 2014, the women Springbok team needs more international play so they can be at the world cup as a forceful competitor and not just a team from Africa making up world cup numbers.


But it starts at domestic competition level. Is SA Rugby going to introduce a bigger national interprovincial tournament for senior women’s rugby? This thing of just one round is not helping to improve the quality of women’s rugby in SA. What can players show and do in one round, involving just a few interprovincial games? A national tournament consisting of two rounds, played on a home and away basis, must be introduced. More national tournaments must be introduced such as a Top 8 and a Cup competition for senior women’s rugby teams.

Under 20 women’s rugby must also be prioritised so that young, emerging players who are the future Springboks develop the skills and international experience whilst at u20 level and not only when they enter the Springbok set-up. How about an u20 national tournament, following on from the national u16 and u18 youth weeks?

And then there’s the much needed and crucial for advanced development international competition. Between now and the world cup in 2021 in New Zealand, South Africa’s women’s Springboks team must play much more higher ranked international teams so they can grow stronger.

Yes, all these national tournaments, preparation of provincial teams and inernational tours requires money. But why can’t sponsorship be attained for women’s rugby when its there for men’s rugby? Junior men’s and boys rugby is also very much prioritised within SA Rugby.


I’ve called for this before and I’m calling for it again: SA’s women’s Springbok squad should be nationally contracted leading up to the 2021 women’s rugby world cup so the players can focus on rugby as full-time players instead of having to prioritise work and education commitments with rugby training, playing and preparation happening now and then.

Within women’s rugby clubs and provincial teams are the young andemerging players finishing high school but not being attached to a tertiary institution nor having employment. Can’t it be organised for these young players, those on the fringe of national selection and those already in the women’s Springbok set-up, for them to go and play club rugby in Australia and New Zealand. If SA Rugby can arrange for the players to be involved in club rugby in these very advanced women’s rugby playing countries, it can only improve their quality and level of play.

Women’s rugby is becoming very popular in SA. The girl and women rugby players work hard at their training programmes. But SA Rugby, as the officialdom and administrator of women’s rugby, is not offering much for the women’s game to grow and be taken to much higher levels. Playing one round of interprovincial competition, involving just a few games is not enough for the rugby hungry players.

SA Rugby gives the reasoning that it doesn’t have the money for women’s rugby. But how committed is SA Rugby to developing women’s rugby in SA? They certainly focus heavily on boys, junior men’s and men’s Springbok developent and support. But what about money and support for women’s rugby?

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