Archive for the ‘Womens Rugby’ Category

Bare with me, this is an off the cuff blog, so it may ramble, but what it WILL do is RANT!

With the Olympics coming up, i felt the need to rant on a subject that riles me for roughly 8-12 weekends a year…. fairweather, know it all fans who only watch rugby when its on the BBC (6 nations) or ITV (Rugby World Cup).
How do these tie in? The Olympics and fairweather fans that is….

well…..

Anytime a sport is overkilled on TV, it instantly draws the crowds of know it all fans, who are experts during the TV run, and usually a month afterwards.

For example….
Go to any tennis court at the moment….. full of teens to mid 20’s, mainly males, new raquets, new balls, and absolutely no skill in the world. Whats just been on TV? Wimbledon. Now i know a few people who play tennis every summer and take it seriously, this isn’t aimed at them. Its not even a dig at people trying out a new sport, its just the example i use to how stop/start exposure to sports damages participation levels.

Yes, Aviva Premiership and Heineken rugby is on Sky and ESPN. I have neither. I watch the ITV4 highlights. Usually its easier to find Bin Ladens bunker than to find the highlights show in the listings, and its on a minor channel that many people don’t have! Plus when you cut out Craig Doyles waffling and the ad breaks, its about 35 minutes worth of highlights.
Match of the day is the football equivalent. Its on between 10-1030 every Saturday, MOTD2 is on at 10 every Sunday, plus morning repeats of MOTD on a Sunday morning, football focus at lunchtime on a Saturday, final score at 430 every Saturday, it even has a kids spin off and there is total football saturation on Radio 5, TalkSPORT and local radio all weekend every weekend. Actually, with TalkSPORT, the name is misleading as it 99% talks about football all bloody week. Brian Moore guest hosted last week and i barely heard rugby get a mention, and since when were former international cricketers Darren Gough and Ronnie Irani doyens of football punditry???

Imagine the fanbase that could be built in any sport with that kind of market dominance, especially with the impressionable and lucrative early teens to late 20’s market.
Rugby has the fanbase, bigger Premiership sides aren’t far off of lower end Premiership football attendance figures. Most big games are sold out these days and even lower league teams are getting decent crowds these days. come on ITV, give Rugby a decent shot. Put the highlights on ITV2 at a peak time, instead of the only way is f*****g Essex, then repeat it on ITV at a reasonable hour (instead of the usual 1am slot!)

That rant is actually off topic of the rant i was planning.

My rant was going to be about the people who watch half a dozen or so rugby matches a year ( normally the 6nations and an Autumn international or 2) and then make out they are some kind of expert by repeating word for word what Jeremy Guscott or Brian Moore says about a player and tries to pass it off as a fact.
EVERYONE knows someone like this. I unfortunately know loads.

There are many local clubs that would love to have these peoples money in the coffers at every home game, I mean granted, I’m from Coventry and I’m a Gloucester fan, so it may sound hypocritical, (family circumstances dictated that one….) but people should support the local sides. Coventry nearly went bust. I was gutted by this, i’ve been to the old Coundon Rd and the new Butts Park to watch them on many occasions over the years, and i used to play for them as a youth.
Not even just the big local sides, Barker Butts, Coventrians, Broadstreet, Nuneaton…. there are many clubs that would love the support, so instead of buying the England shirt (usually when sports direct have it cheap)and telling the world that ‘Chris Ashton is the best support runner in rugby’ (or whatever Guscott said to Inverdale on the last broadcast!) get off your arses and support rugby, from grassroots up!

Women’s rugby in Britain is a booming sport. I read that a while ago. But is it? I can only write this as an England fan, so excuse my bias!

Englands Womens team have won the 6 nations 6 times in a row, they were runners up in the womens world cup. they beat the best team in the world (unsurprisingly, New Zealand) 10-0, 21-7 and got an 8 all draw at the end of last year, but where is there recognition? In Maggi Alphonsi they have arguably the best player in the world, but get no TV coverage. Well not true. They got on the ‘red button’ on BBC 1 after the England v Scotland mens 6 nations game, yup,the red button. England Womens team v their Scottish counterparts. 89-0 to the red rose gals.

So why do the media ignore the womens side of the sport? Thats a rhetorical question…..

The womens game has flaws. Some of the tackling in the aforementioned red button game was laughable, but also there was some superb running rugby, Kat Merchant, Danielle Waterman can cut defences apart with the best of them. Surely the flaws can be ironed out through better training. But better training comes at a cost. A cost that needs to be covered by sponsorship, advertising, anything, burt that surely can’t happen without some kind of media exposure. So we are at a vicious circle.

I am no expert on womens rugby, far from it. But i can see the inherent problems in the game. The Catch 22 of no media = low advertising revenues means the coaches will always be, with the greatest respect, people on the lower rungs of coaching, don’t get me wrong, i’m sure they are good at their jobs, but could you imagine rugby luminaries such as Martin Johnson or Sir Clive Woodward coaching the womens side? It wouldn’t happen. If it did, there would be instant raising of media interest, so surely the RFU could put some of their vast profits into the Ladies game and hire a coach to work with England coach Gary Street and raise the profile. How about someone recently retired like Jason Robinson? Or even a current player to work alongside them. Not just as a publicity stunt, as a real attempt to raise the game.

The added interest would increase female participation, for example, my wifes side can barely raise 15 to play nowadays, what they (the RFU) need to do is encourage younger girls to play, someone like Margaret Alphonsi could be one of THE BIGGEST female role models in any sport with media help. You can’t be a role model without the public having access to you.

Is there more the RFU could do? Yes. Simply. But they don’t seem to be interested. Grass roots in both mens and womens game is the bread and butter of the future generations of players, and if the RFU don’t look after them at that level, then there is pretty much nothing you can do to re encourage people to take up the sport. Girls at school don’t really play rugby. The boys do. My school could put out 2 or 3 teams, but the girls weren’t even taught rugby. How can you encourage people to play if you deny them a chance to try.

At club level, i have searched through google, and if you search for a club league, you get a smorgasbord of Wikipedia, Pitchero or RFU pages mostly linking you to international games. So even the internet seems to have very little coverage.

I also, without straying down the road of accidental sexism, cover gender roles in life. Women have babies. FACT. Shocking huh, but as is the traditional gender role, women also tend to be the primary carer, this obviously affects participation levels, and the other problem is women tend to have babies when they would be in their peak levels of fitness as rugby players. How about changing a game day so the mens, womens and kids sides don’t all play on the traditional sunday? That makes it tough for a family to all play. If Dad is playing, and Junior is playing away from home, then Mum has to go, its the traditional parental dynamic. So are thought processes and traditional stereotyping as big a problem as lack of media interest?

Who knows. If any female players have any thoughts, i would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I know that i can’t answer the questions i have posed,i’m not actually sure anyone can answer them, but i would love to hear thoughts on how the Womens game could be improved, top to bottom.

I’m aware that this blog is appallingly structured,and certainly lacking the humour i normally try and throw in,  but i kinda got on a roll writing it and i’ve just drifted where the thoughts have taken me.

Links

The all conquering England womens squad http://www.rfu.com/SquadsAndPlayers/WomensRugby.aspx

The RFUW (womens rugby) affiliated club list http://www.rfu.com/~/media/Files/2011/WomensRugby/RFUW_Affiliated_List_2011_12_Season.ashx

How to set up a womens team http://www.rfu.com/ManagingRugby/ClubDevelopment/Players/GirlsAndWomen/EstablishingaWomensSection.aspx

The WRWC 2010 website http://www.rwcwomens.com/

The excellent Scrum Queens site http://www.scrumqueens.com/

 

 

Does Rugby Union have  the best sports fans in the world?

Lots of good-natured banter, everyone looking out for each other, it’s a nice place to be. Yeah, we have our fair share of idiots, like every walk of life, but the majority of rugger buggers are all like-minded individuals (and yes, that’s kinda an oxymoron!)

A few months ago, I asked for help in pressurising the RFU and IRB over punishing Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu for tweeting, and bearing in mind it was my first ever blog, and only advertised by myself through twitter and facebook, i had over 1500 people read the blog and a good percentage helped with spreading the word. It was originally known to us Tweeters as #GlawsSOS and we had people jump on board from all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Pacific Islands. I had 2 negative comments over it. one that didn’t agree with our cause (who actually admitted by the end that the proposed 6 month ban was OTT!) and 1 that pulled me over punctuation. Wow. Like i care about punctuation. My Blog, my thoughts, punctuation has sod all to do with it!

This got me talking on Twitter to guys and gals that are too numerous to mention, the original #GlawsFamily, and becoming good friends with a fair few of them. The #GlawsFamily then grew, we had over 150 by Xmas. The players at Gloucester began to  tweet using that hashtag, a few players follow the fans, it’s a truly great fan experience, in my opinion. But its my blog, so my opinion is all that matters, right?

After a while of great banter amongst the fans of Gloucester on twitter, Trevor Large had a great idea. We were already followed and following fans from a few clubs, some who we ‘met’ through #GlawsSOS, so he decided we wanted fans from all clubs to come together, for banter, for a news grapevine, for fun, and created a hashtag called #rugbyunited. If i remember right it was originally #rugbyfollowback, a chance for rugby fans to follow each other. Simple, right?!

Well simplicity was the beauty . Since #RugbyUnited was born, I’ve gained fans from every Aviva Premiership club, all the Irish provincial sides, Cardiff and Osprey’s, Glasgow, Edinburgh…. then the Aussies, the Americans, The South Africans, Kiwis…. fans from EVERYWHERE have joined in. its only been a couple of weeks since the concept, we’ve already had people meeting up at games, I’m getting 10+ new followers every day, My timeline is nigh on impossible to follow, but 90% of it is about rugby, so I’m happy with that!

There is a website set up (http://rugbyunited.wordpress.com/)to showcase the events we have coming up, whether through individual clubs, or as part of the larger scale #RugbyUnited, there’s talk of #RugbyDate being set up, with events being set up to coincide with matches, hell, I’ve even been talked into having my legs waxed for charity through #rugbyunited. There are introductions to some of the fans, as there are also on http://poshtottyontour.blogspot.com/2011/12/rugbyunited.html which is a (much better) blog (than this one!) that is written by yet another of the #RugbyUnited clan!

Anyway, i’m rambling.

No change there.

Anyway. i’m impressed by the Twitter community of rugby fans, and i know that the non Twitter fans are generally awesome too. So to answer my original question, Does Rugby Union have  the best sports fans in the world?

You bet your sweet arse it does!

R xxx

 

 

NB:- edited to add, the NEW rugbyunited website is available at http://WWW.RugbyUnited.Info. you can also try http://www.rugbyunited.freeforums.org