Women’s rugby pyramid is considerably narrower than the men’s, and near the base of that pyramid are Jersey United Banks RFC Ladies. Today history was made as the local ladies hosted their first ever league match, at Grainville v Beckenham.
Of course there is little sport that girls and women don’t play these days. There was a time when these things were clearly demarcated; blokes played football, rugby and cricket, women played netball and rounders. Some sports were common to both sexes – athletics, swimming, tennis for example. Indeed women participated regularly from early in the 20th century. The Women’s Amateur Athletics Association was formed in 1922 but for many years the events that they could enter were restricted. The marathon only became an Olympic event in 1984, for example.
It was only in the 50s however that women became involved in greater numbers. During WW2 a strange phenomena occurred – women found that they could do stuff for themselves, and not just child-rearing and housekeeping. Inevitably the top sports began to embrace women more and more. Today the girls do more or less what the men do though in athletics the weights and hurdle specifications (for example) still differ. In tennis women are still deemed incapable of playing five sets.
But it is only in the last decade or so that women have really crossed over into the men’s world with a vengeance with coaching opportunities available to girls in all sports from a young age. Jersey was slow off the mark but the soccer girls have improved considerably over the last ten years. Cricket and rugby for women is much newer and today I’m afraid it showed.
It finished JUBRFC 5 – 22 Beckenham. It was not a pretty sight really. Admittedly we are presently being spoilt by an excellent JRFC First XV and junior club rugby bears little relationship to what we see at St Peter once a fortnight. The Beckenham girls were more experienced and possessed basic skills plus a couple of genuinely strong and fast players. The local girls looked what they are, a collection of players learning to pick up the rudiments of the game. For much of the match they seemed intent on proving the truisms that ‘girls can’t catch’ and ‘girls can’t kick’. What possession they had was either run sideways and/or easily coughed up. Once the visiting girls woke up it was one way traffic.
But fair play to the local girls, they battled away and gave their opponents few enough chances. There were no heads dropping and the enthusiasm levels remained high. Though a number of them are clearly short of fitness they managed one sustained period of pressure to be rewarded by a try in the corner.
Good on JUBRFC for leading the way where JRC seem uninterested in this branch of the sport. They need more women to get involved, more coaches to help out in the many and various aspects of the game. They need to get fitter. Let’s hope that in a few years time they too will be climbing the national ladder.