Women in Rugby

wpid-womensrugby_20120921_kai-jacobsonWomen’s rugby is one of the world’s fastest-growing female team sports. It is estimated that 2 million women and girls worldwide play rugby.

The rules, pitch and equipment are exactly the same for women’s rugby as more men’s rugby. The history, however, is very different. The first documented evidence of women playing rugby in a women’s only team was in 1891. A women’s team in New Zealand was planning a tour across the country, but due to public outcry, it, unfortunately, had to be cancelled. This gives an idea of society’s view of women playing rugby, and sports in general, at the time.

Women persevered, however, and didn’t give up on the idea of playing this exciting, fast-paced sport. Charity games were played during World War I, among them a game played at Cardiff arms Park. Cardiff Ladies played Newport on 16 December 1917 and won 6-0. What is interesting to note is the Cardiff team all wore protective headgear. This was a few decades before men’s teams started wearing protective headgear.

By 1983 the Women’s Rugby Football Union (WRFU) was formed in the UK. This covered the governing of the game across the British Isles. This was the beginning of the game being organised on a more formal basis across the world.

This included organisations and teams being formed in Italy, Canada, Japan, USSR, France, Ireland and the USA. In 1988 The Women’s International Rugby Board (WIRB) was formed.

Two years later – in 1990 – the first international women’s tournament was held in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was called Rugbyfest and included club teams, as well as national teams from New Zealand, USA, the USSR and the Netherlands. New Zealand won the tournament.

The following year the first Women’s Rugby World Cup took place in Wales. Despite being run on a tight budget, the event was a success and the game has since continued to grow to where it is today.