Women playing rugby? Yes it is a thing! Playing for my university team as well as a club team means I’ve had my fair share of questioning when it comes to light I play rugby. With help from my rugby teammates we’ve come up with a list of people’s reactions to woman playing the game.
When I tell someone I play rugby, they automatically assume it’s different to the men’s game, because a sport so rough surely isn’t for a young lady(!)
“Oh, so you play touch rugby then?” A question I’ve been asked a number of times. Nope, it's exactly the same as the full contact 15-a-side men’s game, apart from the fact second rows don’t have to avoid certain inconvenient dangly bits when getting a good grip on the shorts of their props.
We scrum, we ruck and yes, we tackle just like the opposite gender. We’re just as tough as our counterparts. I’d like to say that we do it all whilst looking pretty, but I’d be lying. Let’s face it who looks good when their face is smooshed between two thighs. When on the pitch, I’ve never once considered my hair, nails or if the photographers are getting my good side. Although I can’t say the same for the boys!
There is a huge preconception about the characteristics of a women’s rugby player. The idea that you need to be big, butch and masculine is untrue. “You play rugby, so you’re a lesbian then?” The most common women’s rugby question ever, without a doubt. Believe it or not, not all female rugby players are lesbians, it’s not a prerequisite for stepping foot on the pitch, and whether you are or aren’t makes no difference to how you’re treated by your teammates.
Rugby is an inclusive game for all shapes and sizes. “You seem too short to play rugby” is just non-rugby player speak for “I bet you’re a great scrum-half.” Each position on the pitch has it's own demands and to say that there’s one size fits all in women’s rugby would be completely inaccurate.
Boys aren’t shy in using the fact we play rugby as an attempt to flirt on a night out. Guys, I’m afraid us girls can’t help but cringe at your rugby related pick up lines.
No, we don’t want to have a one on one scrum with you.
No we don’t want to tackle you, and yes we play hooker sometimes.
“But you’re too pretty to play rugby. You’ll get cauliflower ears.” Thank you for your concern but we can wear headguards too! Plus not much stops us rugby girls, black eyes, broken bones and even with the worst hangover in the world we’ll still make it onto the pitch.
This being said, there are guys that say they admire ladies who play rugby because, ironically, they wouldn’t have the balls to do it.
Rugby is well known for its lads, lads, lads social scene. Pints, initiations, tour virgins and being naked most of the time seem to be the main focus of typical rugby lad behaviour.
Although I have to say “drinks at the club?” is one of my favourite questions to be asked. You just never know what to expect at a rugby social.
Will it be a Dutch tour team dressed like horses giving everyone free Gouda or a Welsh team drinking whisky from a bong. A lot of the girls on my team could definitely give the boys a run for their money downing a pint, but could also been seen sipping cocktails the following week.
Women’s rugby is thriving. And it's not just the playing side of rugby that has seen a growth - there are more and more women taking up the officiating side of the game. Hollie Davidson and Joy Neville are leading the way at the moment, being involved with both men's and women's matches.
There has been an increase in participation at school, club and international level as well as record attendance and engagement at the recent Six Nations games. However it seems there is still a long way to go before there is full equality in rugby, both on and off the pitch.
So before judging the ability of a women to play a competitive full contact sport, why not encourage them. Or if you are a woman reading this blog and want to be a part of women’s rugby why not find your nearest club in Scotland, England, Ireland or Wales.
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