What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? … About 100 years ago.
Its been almost just over seven months since England Women brought the house down with the epic 21-9 win over Canada at Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris for the Women’s Rugby World Cup. Female rugby players in England rejoiced at the hope that this would cement women in the eye of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and everyone else as worthy of attention.
Shortly afterwards, the announcement of England Women’s Sevens going professional caused more reason to celebrate. The age of professional women’s rugby was dawning, and we were ready.
But then, oh. It couldn’t last.
The New Year’s honours were announced and only two England players, Rochelle Clark and Sarah Hunter, from the World Cup winning team were featured. When compared to the full honouring of the men’s winning team from 2003, it seems little unfair.
Sadly, this blatant inequality is scarcely seen, as there was a distinct lack of publicity given to the recipients. What reason could there be to only honour two of that incredible winning team? Rugby is a team sport, is it not?
And now, with the Six Nations upon us, eyes are upon the men as they attempt to win their first Six Nations since 2011, and prove themselves as hosts before the World Cup later this year.
Alongside the men, the women play, hoping to retain their crown as World Cup champions. But, already they are off to a bad start, having lost the first round to Wales 13-0. But, despite the score, it is not the loss that infuriates female players everywhere. It is the lack of publicity given to our champions.
Nowhere on the main BBC Sport’s Rugby Union page was this score featured, and if it was, it was quickly replaced. There was no story on the score, no detailed analysis of what this mean for the women, and certainly no pundit giving their opinion on what the outcome for the women’s Six Nations might be.
What reason could there be to only honour two of that incredible winning team? Rugby is a team sport, is it not?
How have we come so far from the World Cup in August, only to go backwards again? The women are shrinking into the shadows as media bosses refuse to feature them.
Women’s rugby is a sport that needs growing space if it wishes to survive amongst the best. While the World Cup score against Canada showed an easy win over them, the fact is ignored about how fast Canada has climbed the ranks. This is due to their attention to the female sport, and desire to help it grow.
Simple things such as placing a story on the main Rugby Union page on the BBC website are simple ways to ensure the continual growth of this sport, and to inspire generations of girls to come. By not featuring it for all to see, they are creating a world that believes women’s rugby isn’t deserving of a news story – win or lose.
A wave is sweeping across England, attempting to engage more girls in sport, keep them active for longer. Yet the media is systematically working to undo all this hard work, and the worst part is that they don’t even seem to realise it.
Follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyvictoria44
Images courtesy of daliymail.co.uk/sport and zimbio.com