SA Rugby Gives Women Rugby Players A Bad Deal Again! By Cheryl Roberts

6 Oct

Preparations are underway or should be undertaken by countries scheduled to participate in the 2021 women’s rugby World Cup to be played in New Zealand, in about one year’s time. South Africa, too is ‘preparing’. This will be  SA back at a women’s rugby World Cup after last participating in 2014 and then going into a self-imposed international moratorium. Women’s rugby was last played in SA last October when SA played Tests against Scotland in Cape Town. In both Tests, SA’s performances showed the women Springboks needed much more thorough preparation and game time. A national assessment camp was then held earlier in 2020. Now comes the announcement of a national training camp to be held over some weeks in Stellenbosch, got the women Springboks. But how and why were players selected for the women Springboks national training camp when they all last played and had game time last October? How does a head coach select a national squad for a national training camp when there’s been no play for a year? Women Springboks head coach has selected and announced players called up to the national training camp. Several omissions and non-call ups have surprised players and provincial coaches. Some Springbok players who got injured last year have not been called up, some players who put in sterling performances during the one round interprovincial championship have not been selected. And then you get 9 players from the 7’s squad who didn’t play in the 2019 Tests being called up to the 2020 15’s national training squad. The question is: How must South Africa’s women rugby players ‘Prove Themselves’ when there’s no game time, since September/October last year? Women rugby players have heard nothing about interprovincial and national rugby throughout lockdown. Then they heard about the national training camp coming up in October. Throughout the lockdown, SA Rugby has concentrated on pro men’s rugby which also includes men’s u21 rugby. Because all women’s rugby, including women Springboks, are considered amateur, no arrangements were made to get women’s rugby back on the playing field after lockdown restrictions were lifted. So how does a women Springboks national training camp get sorted out? How do players get selected? On what performances? Couldn’t SA Rugby have arranged to play a one week national interprovincial women’s championship? You did it for the senior men and arranged it for the men’s u21 championship. But couldn’t SA Rugby stage a national one week championship for women’s rugby?Why must women’s rugby be so non-supported, so marginalised in SA Rugby? The women Springboks are going to play in a rugby World Cup in one year’s time and they are not getting the support they should be getting from their federation in preparation for this global event. To come back to the issue: when there’s no game time for women players, how is the Springbok coach going to select players based on current performances? How do you select players from over a year ago’s performances and game time?And then: When will the women’s interprovincial championship start and be played in 2021? Will it be a double round championship or just another one round championship? How do players get game time at provincial level? How is SA’s best national squad going to be selected for the 2021 women’s rugby World Cup with no women’s rugby being scheduled? Surely this is a raw deal being given to women’s rugby within SA Rugby? Who do the players turn to and ask about their omission and non-selection for the national training camp? Who do women players have to speak up for them within SA Rugby? How do women rugby players get a better, supportive deal from SA Rugby? Most importantly, how do women rugby players prove themselves when there’s no game time in over a year?

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