The rise in women’s rugby

Video transcript

Q: How did you get into rugby?

DW: So I have two older brothers and we used to play in the garden every single sport possible and rugby tended to be the favourite for them as they got to go full contact and yeah I loved it, went down the local rugby club in Minehead at the age of 4 and just couldn’t get enough of it and haven’t looked back since.

 Q: What do you love about playing rugby/where do you think you would be without rugby?

DW: The main thing I love about rugby is the fact that it’s a team sport and the fun that you have and the camaraderie that you have on and off the field. I think the physical challenge of rugby, in terms of every aspect you get challenged as an athlete so whether it’s speed, power, agility, fitness, it’s got it all and at the same time you mix in literally the most eclectic mix of people you could find all have a good laugh, yeah it’s a pretty special sport.

Q: Since you started playing, how much do you think the women’s rugby has changed?

DW: It’s ridiculous how much the game has grown and developed. Over the last couple of years you’ve had record crowds at both club and country and to go through an era of professionalism in both sevens and fifteens has been a real privilege and I’m just really excited to see where the game will continue to grow over the coming years.

Q: What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I’ve had a couple, winning the world cup and scoring in the final was pretty good and up there but I also returned from a really serious knee injury where I thought I might not play again, so to go through quite a few months of rehab with lots of support from all of the medical team, coaches and players and to get back into an England shirt was really, really special and something that I’ve been very proud of because of the way I’ve been playing over the recent years as well.

Q: Was it tough mentally to stay focussed and get through your injury?

It’s probably one of the hardest thing I have had to come back from, mainly because of the pain and discomfort I was in but also the length of the injury and it was my sixth reconstruction surgery so as much as you get used to the rehab process and how to focus on coming back as an athlete, it’s still really challenging because at the end of the day you’re missing the opportunity to do the thing that you love. I spent a lot of time in a rehab unit away form my team and really missed my mates and the laughs that we always had so yeah it was really difficult and I definitely reached out and got the support I needed mentally as much as physically and that was fundamental to getting me back to the player I am now.

Q: Why should girls and women who might not have considered playing rugby before, give it a go?

DW: Why not? Rugby is awesome, it has got everything you could want in a sport/activity and doing it with a group of friends and like-minded people that are challenged in such a different way to any other sport that you might have had an opportunity to do.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a young and aspiring female rugby player?

Be brave, and take your opportunities as and when they come, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it because you definitely play your best rugby when you’ve got a smile on your face.

 

 

A record year for women’s rugby

The 2017/18 season has been huge for women’s rugby in England. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Following the success of football's Women's Super League and netball's Super League, the RFU launched the Premier 15s league, designed to raise the profile of women's club rugby in England
  • A world record (for an England team) 17,440 spectators attended the England Women Vs France Women's 2018 Six Nations clash in Grenoble
  • A crowd of 4,542 - a British record for a women's club match - watched Harlequins go toe to toe with London rivals Richmond at the Twickenham Stoop
  • And In 2017, more young women, across the world, played rugby for the first time than men, the first year in which this has been the case

The rise in women’s rugby at grassroots level

This year, Aviva ran the Grassroots Giveaway competition. A competition which was aimed at rewarding the very lowest and yet arguably most important tier of English rugby.

Aviva received almost 1000 entries — close to half of all registered grassroots clubs in England. The prize for winning the competition was £2000 worth of kit and equipment and training session with a Premiership Rugby community coach. But what the winners didn’t know was that they would also get a surprise visit from 3 professional rugby players, who would also join in with their training session.

Not only was the number of entrants to the Grassroots Giveaway competition overwhelming, but it was also brilliant to see just how many women’s teams had entered the competition. This was clear to see as the final 12 winners not only included 3 women’s clubs (Five Ways Old Edwardians RFC, Peterborough Girls RFC and Yeovil Ladies RFC), but a further 2 (Hackney and Longlevens) were mixed gender, which means that almost half of Aviva’s competition winners were female affiliated clubs – something that would have been inconceivable when Aviva first started sponsoring the Premiership 8 years ago.  

To recognise the spectacular growth of women’s rugby, we gave the three women’s clubs: Five Ways, Peterborough and Yeovil, one additional surprise and invited women’s international rugby player Danielle ‘Nolli’ Waterman to take part and lead the women’s coaching sessions.

Having Nolli there was great: not only could she answer the ladies’ questions about women’s rugby, but she also acted as a role model and reminder of what women in rugby can achieve. 

Following the final Grassroots Giveaway training session, I sat down with Nolli and asked her a few questions about her role as a leading figure in women’s rugby, how the sport has changed since she’s been there and how she first got into the game. Find out what she had to say by clicking play on the video above or by reading the transcript below.

 

Q & A with Nolli Waterman

 

Q: How did you get into rugby?

DW: So I have two older brothers and we used to play in the garden every single sport possible and rugby tended to be the favourite for them as they got to go full contact and yeah I loved it, went down the local rugby club in Minehead at the age of 4 and just couldn’t get enough of it and haven’t looked back since.

 Q: What do you love about playing rugby/where do you think you would be without rugby?

DW: The main thing I love about rugby is the fact that it’s a team sport and the fun that you have and the camaraderie that you have on and off the field. I think the physical challenge of rugby, in terms of every aspect you get challenged as an athlete so whether it’s speed, power, agility, fitness, it’s got it all and at the same time you mix in literally the most eclectic mix of people you could find all have a good laugh, yeah it’s a pretty special sport.

Q: Since you started playing, how much do you think the women’s rugby has changed?

DW: It’s ridiculous how much the game has grown and developed. Over the last couple of years you’ve had record crowds at both club and country and to go through an era of professionalism in both sevens and fifteens has been a real privilege and I’m just really excited to see where the game will continue to grow over the coming years.

Q: What’s the proudest moment of your career?

I’ve had a couple, winning the world cup and scoring in the final was pretty good and up there but I also returned from a really serious knee injury where I thought I might not play again, so to go through quite a few months of rehab with lots of support from all of the medical team, coaches and players and to get back into an England shirt was really, really special and something that I’ve been very proud of because of the way I’ve been playing over the recent years as well.

Q: Was it tough mentally to stay focussed and get through your injury?

It’s probably one of the hardest thing I have had to come back from, mainly because of the pain and discomfort I was in but also the length of the injury and it was my sixth reconstruction surgery so as much as you get used to the rehab process and how to focus on coming back as an athlete, it’s still really challenging because at the end of the day you’re missing the opportunity to do the thing that you love. I spent a lot of time in a rehab unit away form my team and really missed my mates and the laughs that we always had so yeah it was really difficult and I definitely reached out and got the support I needed mentally as much as physically and that was fundamental to getting me back to the player I am now.

Q: Why should girls and women who might not have considered playing rugby before, give it a go?

DW: Why not? Rugby is awesome, it has got everything you could want in a sport/activity and doing it with a group of friends and like-minded people that are challenged in such a different way to any other sport that you might have had an opportunity to do.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to a young and aspiring female rugby player?

Be brave, and take your opportunities as and when they come, don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it because you definitely play your best rugby when you’ve got a smile on your face.

 

 

Sources

https://www.sixnationsrugby.com/en/news/women/32916.php#DeYJYxgpDERLALLh.99

 

https://inews.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/rugby-union-global-shift-women/

 

 

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