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Thread: Getting Behind Women's Rugby

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    Burgs's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Country WA

    Getting Behind Women's Rugby

    Quite a good article below from The Roar.

    For me, there is a few reasons I promote the Women's game.

    1. In the last 18 months the skill level has improved enormously and is now enjoyable to watch, I would say more so than AFLW skill improvement. A little like the Under 20's and Schoolboys fixtures, it is a little slower and the bodies don't fill the field as much, so it tends to lead to more enjoyable spectacles of "pure Rugby".

    2. It is arguably mums who will determine the fate of our Code. With all of the evidence around head trauma, it is easy to see Union and League as we know them to be consigned to history. If we have engaged and active mums then they are far more likely to be informed to the realities of the situation and therefore more likely to encourage their sons (and daughters) to play rather than deciding on fear alone. I just watched my first match of Under 10's as a mates nephew was playing. It was a terrific insight and quite heartening to experience, however, I noted the "parent in attendance ratio" was around 50:50 Mum/Dad. Huge stereotype I know, but stereotypes tend to exist from a basis of truth, mums rule the roost. If they say "no", on average, it is unlikely that child will play Rugby at least until adulthood.

    3. They are winning! If you count the awesome Women's 7's in this, I have gained more enjoyment from success in the Women's results so far this year than the Men's! I am not into fair-weather support or fandom, but nonetheless, it is obviously a better experience following something that is successful!

    4. Myriad other lesser reasons, but mainly variations on the above three.

    I would really encourage "Rugby people" to get behind the Women's game, even just by engaging a little or not making tongue in cheek comments. The professional players are working damn hard for improvement and respect, I for one believe they are earning it.

    OPINION: It’s time Australia’s rugby public throw all its weight behind the Wallaroos - because it will transform our game if we do

    Nick Wasiliev
    The Roar

    It was one of the most incredible moments in Australian sporting history, a moment that gripped the minds of millions of Australians and millions around the world.

    Let’s back up a bit. In Newcastle last February, 9,093 fans sat down to watch the Matildas beat Jamaica in a 3-0 masterclass, their final match in the Cup of Nations, and one of their final fixtures before the World Cup. Sitting at that game, it was incredible watching entire families, people young and old, getting behind the side.

    The stadium may have only been at one-third capacity, but it didn’t feel like that – the passion and enthusiasm exhibited by fans was infectious. It was the sort of passion that felt like it was only a matter of time before it would grow. Grow it did.

    A few months later, in front of over 75,000 fans, the Matildas marched out to play a World Cup semi-final. Yes, they may have gone down to England, but the moment Sam Kerr scored that goal to get the home side back in the game will be remembered as a moment that will inspire generations of players to become Matildas. It became a moment that football fans will remember for all time.

    Right now, the Matildas have sold out their last 12 matches at some of the biggest venues in the country, and that streak is set to continue later this month when they welcome China to the Adelaide Oval and to Accor Stadium in Homebush. When was the last time ANY national team did that?

    They have completely transformed how many Australians view the round ball game, something the Socceroos haven’t come close to managing. Look how far they have come in just over a year. The best part is, they are just getting started.

    Make no mistake, the Matildas are setting a fine example for other codes to take note of: the need to get women’s sport up to parity sets a precedent that not only is there a moral responsibility to do so, but that such a move could be extremely lucrative and transformative for how people view your sport.

    In August last year, right at the height of the FIFA World Cup, the Wallaroos penned a letter to Rugby Australia demanding change to the women’s game: player contracts, a full-time coach, and more.

    While the women’s game is still far from parity and more work is to be done by the governing body, it should also be acknowledged that they listened and have made progress on many of the players’ demands.

    The Wallaroos now have a fulltime coach in Jo Yapp – one of the most exciting coaching prospects in the world. Player contracts have been growing, with the highest level players now able to earn two year agreements at a full time salary, and Super Rugby Women’s players earning payments from both RA and their respective clubs.

    All this, even before the significant announcement of Cadbury coming on as a sponsor – a move that will inject a significant amount of cash into the program.

    More importantly, the team is getting more game time with both the WXV program and the Pacific Four series. 2022 alone saw the Wallaroos play as many games as the side played in the entirety of the 1990s, and by the end of this year they will be at nearly the same number of test matches played this decade as they managed throughout the entire 2010s. That, even with a pandemic.

    While that is a sad reflection of how little the Wallaroos program has gotten until now, it is also important to acknowledge that we, as a sport, can and should look forward and be better.

    Speaking on The Roar Rugby Podcast, Layne Morgan acknowledges that while more needs to be done, these steps forward have been significant.

    “You see all the steps and strides other teams are taking… and we’re very envious of other opportunities females are getting, and we know it is going to come,” she said.

    “There’s not many other teams in the world that aren’t professional, most teams that we play are professional. It’s very hard to keep up with that and deliver an 80-minute performance. It is so great now that we can put more time and effort into things because we have that funding.”

    Rugby Australia may have recorded a significant financial deficit of $9.2m in 2023, but the increased investment in the Womens’ program should be commended as a key starting point to build into full professionalism towards the 2029 World Cup.

    Even before this sponsorship announcement, there are already signs the women in green and gold are going to pay back that investment in spades.

    Last year, the WXV1 competition saw the Wallaroos play against the likes of England, New Zealand, France and Wales – all teams that are fully professional. They won bronze, finishing higher than the World Cup-winning Black Ferns, and semi-finalists France.

    Many Australian rugby fans focus purely on the trainwreck that was the men’s World Cup and assume all of 2023 was a complete disaster for the game – to those people, watch the performances of the Wallaroos against the United States, their victory over Wales or their incredible performance against France – who had beaten the Black Ferns the week before. In my opinion, it was the single best Australian performance of the year.

    To those who say, but wait, those teams can’t draw a crowd like the Matildas. Tell that to the 7,000 who turned out to watch the Wallaroos and Black Ferns play at Kayo Stadium last year, a number comparable to what the Matildas were averaging only a year ago.

    While you can make the argument that the round ball game might be played more prominently in Australia right now, a performing national side with increased prominence can make a huge difference.

    Look no further than the rapid increase of women taking up sport in the wake of the World Cup (35% of all girls now play some form of sport, according to the Australian Sports Commission), or the fact that the 2023-24 season of A-League Womens saw crowd attendance more than double in size.

    If the Wallaroos were able to even double what they are doing now, which is something very achievable in the next two seasons, how much does that change the picture for Australian rugby?

    Say it’s a pipe dream, say it is impossible. Give them half a chance, and watch the Wallaroos prove you wrong.

    While Rugby Australia, even in a limited capacity, is showing an increased appetite to grow the women’s game, the responsibility also lies with us, as fans. We need to show the governing body that we want them to invest more.

    If you are in Sydney this weekend, get down to Allianz Stadium early to support the Wallaroos. If you can’t, watch them on Stan Sport or 9Gem. Yes, the game is on Free-to-Air.

    If you can, buy merchandise to support them at the Wallaby Shop. Let folks know we want to see more.

    If you can’t do either, watch the games after the fact. Share articles in support of the team. There is a small, but growing online community that supports them.

    The Matildas transformed football for the entire nation in 2023 – in participation, in the growth of a brand, and in awareness in women’s sport. It’s time we as rugby fans help the Wallaroos follow in their footsteps.

    Watch them grow.

    2 Not allowed! Not allowed!
    Last edited by Burgs; 13-05-24 at 14:13.
    "Bloody oath we did!"

    Nathan Sharpe, Legend.

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