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International Women’s Day: A Rugby Call To Action

In lieu of a video this year, I decided on this International Women’s Day call to action.  There is a lot for USA Rugby fans to celebrate.  USA Sevens, the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC Sevens Series concluded with strong results for both USA Eagles Sevens’ sides.  Dream Team performances by Naya Tapper, Alev Kelter and Danny Barrett propelled the USA to both the men’s and women’s semifinals. I would be remiss in failing to mention the USA Eagles 15’s side historically winning the Americas Rugby Championship, USA’s first major 15’s championship since the 1920’s, read the Goff Rugby Report write up here.  However, Las Vegas Invitational, the tournament that accompanies USA 7s, we are once again reminded of a greater issue, how the girls and women in the USA Rugby community deserve far better.

The Elite High School Girls bracket final was played on a poorly lined pitch, with no assistant referees.  The match included a match between national level all-star sides, Atlantis U18 and Tahi Kaha All-Stars (a top New Zealand Academy Team).  Atlantis U18 earned an exciting come from behind victory over the Tahi Kaha; meanwhile the Elite Boys Final was played in Sam Boyd Stadium between the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy (EIRA) and NZ Taniwha (Raki).

At some point we have to take responsibility as a community to stop passively promoting equity, and demand it.  As members of the USA Rugby community: fans, coaches, players, admins, sponsors, and media need to hold ourselves accountable.  Are we doing right by the women and girls of our sport?  Are we doing what we can to ensure right is done by them? Is equitable treatment an expectation?  This is what motivated my call to action on women’s day.  If Strategy 2020 is our guide and we intend to grow our ranks by about 60,000 members totaling 180,000, by year 2024; girls and women must be engaged.  A culture of philanthropy begins with fond experiences and is sustained via engagement of stakeholders.  If we value their, time, money, and fan support; the community must play its part.  Our call to action is a series of challenges. We must challenge ourselves, and these are the first 4 that came to mind. This is not an exhaustive list.

1. Challenge Ourselves to be Better Fans:

Start with our national teams; Seek out the match schedule.  Ask about live streaming. Attend a match or two.  Share related content on social media, besides www.viralrugby.com, there are great sources of info on our links page.   Get pissed off when there are bad calls or play is sloppy, they deserve our engagement. Watch and share highlight videos (shameless plug).

2. Challenge Ourselves to Advocate an Inclusive Culture:

Rugby is rugby.  In 2001-2002 when a friend came to one of my rugby games and thought it looked fun, she asked if there was a women’s team.  There wasn’t at the time, but we both asked why not.  That semester  University of Maryland Women’s Rugby was reborn.  Men’s and women’s teams, seek one another out for networking.  Universities, partner on joint alumni efforts.  All these things improve engagement and growth.

3. Challenge Ourselves to Speak Up:

Inequity only persists when inequity is acceptable. My daughter will likely play this game; her rugby experience should matter as much as yours or mine does.  This challenge can be preventative.  Sometimes it is as simple as asking questions of those planning; since many of them are thankless volunteers. The earlier those questions happen, the easier it is to course correct for inclusion.  If you are at a tournament and see that the women’s teams were relegated to a swampy postage stamp for the entire tournament, say something, early.

4. Challenge Ourselves to Be Invested:

If there are women in your network that have active roles in the rugby community, ask them how you can help or support.   That support can be rugby related something professional, or academic.  Everyone’s capacity and talents are different, however, as we say this is a game for everyone so everyone can support.  A great place to start, supporting rugby women run media sites The Rugby Breakdown and Your Scrumhalf Connection.

 

Are there some other challenges that were missed?  Anything to add? Tweet us your thoughts @viralrugby or connect with us on Facebook and let us know.