Rugby’s popularity is on the rise in the U.S., and has an estimated 400-million fans worldwide. Nielsen Sports estimated that 42 percent of sports fans were aware of women’s rugby in 2018, and according to the BBC, women’s participation in rugby has increased 98 percent in the last 25 years, and a 28 percent jump in participation from 2017 to 2018. It’s now estimated that 2.7 million women play rugby across the globe.
World Rugby wants to continue the phenomenon of women in the sport, and launched the “Try and Stop Us” world marketing campaign in 2019. The campaign features the stories of 15 inspirational women and girls dubbed the “Unstoppables.” It also added 17 women to the World Rugby Council, which is the largest female representation in the council’s existence.
“We firmly believe that the development of women in rugby is the single greatest opportunity for our sport to grow over the next decade,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said, as reported by Reuters. “Women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth around the world, participation levels are at an all-time high … (with women) making up a quarter of the global playing population.”
Not only may this help increase the popularity of the sport, but the “Try and Stop Us” campaign is interested in helping female athletes develop into better players, women, community members, and role models with the intention of creating a more equal world, on and off the field. They hope to achieve their goal of doubling the number of players from 2017 by 2025 by improving competition, investing with benevolent partners, and standing up for women’s rights.
Additionally, the game may improve with new studies attempting to bridge the gender gap between data on injuries and training for men and women. Led by researcher Elizabeth Williams, the Global Women’s Rugby Union Survey will help inform methods specific to women to improve player safety.
“If we have at least 10,000 responses from around the world, this will provide a wealth of information that we can analyse, coordinate and share with the global women’s rugby community to make the game safer for all, and help coaches and athletes to train smarter, maximising the ergogenic advantages that female athletes have to reach their full, physical potential,” Williams said in a statement.
While the future of women’s rugby looks bright, the fight for equality is not over. Following a controversy in which the Irish women’s rugby team jerseys were modeled by models, as opposed to the men’s which were modeled by players, the hashtag #IAmEnough appeared on Twitter to allow female players to show that the person they are is truly enough.
This incident proves the kinship between women’s rugby players is strong, with women banding together to support one another.
“The numbers don’t lie. A third of rugby players worldwide are women. A third are youth. So while the suits and old fogies might be men, there are too many women playing rugby now to think of female players as just girls trying to play a men’s game,” Paul Peerdeman, a rugby journalist and coach, wrote for Last Word on Rugby. “Instead, we have women playing rugby, or women practicing a sport.”
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