As I've previously mentioned, from the little I have seen of women's rugby (and it's almost never featured on the TV as far as I can recall) the levels of athleticism, fitness and technical skills are very impressive - and the levels of enthusiasm and dedication are equally so. The women's game is, in a strange sort of way, reminiscent of men's rugby back in the 70s/80s before the top male players effectively became full-time rugby players. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Top female players have to juggle their careers with their chosen sport and the fact that they manage to do so effectively and still maintain the amateur ethos that still courses through the veins of women's rugby is, for me, one of women's rugby's attractions. That grassroots players, both male and female, can more readily identify with a member of the England women's team than with her professional, gym-cultured male counterpart, is a racing certainty.
The biggest story in the women's game in recent weeks has been the announcement that England will host the 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup. The tournament, last held in Edmonton, Canada in 2006, will be staged across West London and will showcase the top 12 international teams in world rugby. Hosts England, triple 6 Nations Grand Slam winners and holders of the European Championship and Nations Cup and New Zealand, winners of the last three World Cups and recent conquerors of Australia, will no doubt start as favourites.
Apparently the RFUW and RFU fought off stiff competition from Germany, South Africa and Kazakhstan to host the 2010 event. And here's the thing. I'm sure that England will stage a good tournament - it will be organised well and be well supported and may even attract some media coverage. But, as with their failure to give the 2011 men's Rugby World Cup to Japan, I can't help feeling that the IRB have missed a trick here. By giving the tournament to one of the "big guns," have they missed the opportunity to spread the gospel (both of women's rugby and rugby in general) to less traditional strongholds of the game? Admittedly, having not seen the details of the rival bids I'm not really in a position to criticise, but I would have thought that, with some financial and organisational support, taking the tournament to Africa or Asia in particular would have been a far more enlightened and visionary approach?
Anyway, seeing as we're on a women's rugby theme, here's a picture I found on Wes Clark's Rugby Readers Review that I find amusing (caption added by yours truly and the sentiment just as easily applies to the men's game...)
For some excellent blogging on women's rugby please check out the following blogs: