Informative Piece by Evie Weeks
Have you ever played rugby? Have you ever wanted to? The dynamic sport has predominantly been played by boys of all ages but in 1987 the first ever Welsh women’s national rugby match against England's women's team was played. We lost 4 - 22 but learning to improve as a team was more important. I will be talking about why rugby is important to me and how women’s rugby has evolved.
Women's rugby in Wales has always been viewed by a small number of people. Nowadays, the number of people that come to watch a lower league game, a higher league game or a national/ international game has risen significantly. Our players are getting the publicity they deserve which has shown a positive effect on how they play on the field. The male game of rugby is seen as ‘harder’ than the women's one which is untrue as in both games, players have to compete against opposition of various sizes and weights. Therefore, when people assume that the men's game is harder, I believe that it should be properly questioned.
I believe that rugby was a sport that women played for their country but didn’t get as much praise as men for doing the same. However, times are changing and the women in our national team are getting paid. Male Rugby Union players from some of the top sides can earn up to £15,000 per match. I think the WRU could have given the women in Wales's team a contract earlier but because of important issues like the pandemic they didn't and the team didn't have a game for 2 years. Therefore, although money isn’t the reason that women play rugby, the issue of ‘fair pay and fair play’ has never been more important.
This year's Women’s Six Nations gave us some wow moments like Hannah Jones running like the wind past the Scottish attacking line. The fantastic Welsh women’s team featuring our own Robyn Wilkins beat Scotland and Ireland's team this year. Unfortunately, Wales didn’t manage to win another game but according to previous competitions, there is huge improvement and Wales are making their games more expressive. England won the grand slam but now all the Welsh women are interested in getting physically fitter, mentally equipped and ready for the next game they have.
I've been in an all-girls rugby team and before that, a boys team. Having seen how both are coached, how both are approached and how both are played, differences between the games became apparent. When I was on the boys team, it was harder to get involved because they didn't pass me the ball as much as the others and it really bothered me. When I was in the girls team, there was no issue with keeping the ball from a specific girl because we treated each other and our coaches with the same amount of respect, it was more inclusive. I hope in the future that all teams reach this level.
So when people ask me why I like rugby, I simply say because I'm part of a rugby family and grew up watching it each week.
I like rugby because watching my brother play his game with his team on Saturdays and Sundays was one of the highlights of my week. I've watched him play rugby for 11 years. I've seen their greatest wins and toughest losses. My dad has coached both mine and my brother's teams and we have most likely improved over time because of him. Also, I enjoy rugby because of the friendships you make playing over the years with different people. If you like the idea of playing for a team, there are many teams all over Wales and they are accepting and understanding: they accept girls of all shapes and sizes, abilities and talents. If you want to join a team sport where you will make strong friendships, improve your physical health and mental health and most importantly have fun, rugby is a great choice no matter who you identify as.