All good things must come to an end and sadly this week that’s the case for our Lockdown Squad. Thank you to everyone who has joined us along the way, we have loved seeing your smiling faces every Sunday morning! But don’t worry, it’s not too late to get in on the action for our last session this Sunday 14th February. Just hit the sign up button here and get excited for a skills and fitness session with our founder Rachael Burford.
And for those of you who want more, we’ll be running an extra special Half-Term Squad from 10.30am – 11.00am Monday 15th to Friday 19th February. We have an incredible line-up of international rugby royalty for this one including Emily Scarratt, Jade Konkel, Lauren Delany, Elinor Snowsill and Shaunagh Brown. We also have a special appearance from our very own hype woman Alice Soper all the way from New Zealand. She’ll be hosting a live quiz night on Friday 19th February you don’t want to miss. Grab your snacks and join in the fun! Click here to register.
Walk the talk – time for action, not tokenism
For the last of our Lockdown Squad blog series we’re turning the spotlight back on to our founder, the brilliant Rachael Burford – England Red Roses legend, current Harlequins captain and all-round rugby queen. Burf also happens to be a regular columnist for RugbyPass, writing content for their brand new dedicated women’s rugby platform so be sure to check it out here.
In her latest column, Burf talks about the importance of walking the talk when it comes to supporting the women’s game. It’s one thing to like, comment and share, but taking tangible action to drive the game forward is what we need now more than ever.
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Rugby queens step up to the plate
Burf highlights the amazing work of Wasps player Flo Williams, one of our very own Advisory Board members and founder of the Perception Agency. Flo has been a driving force for change and notably called out Canterbury when they launched the Ireland Women’s rugby jerseys using female models, not rugby players last year. This caused a storm online and rallying cries for better representation of female athletes by sports brands across the board. Impressively, it also prompted a public apology from Canterbury and a commitment to using female rugby players in future jersey campaigns. But not only that, it’s had a ripple effect amongst other brands that are increasingly recognising the importance of accurate representation within marketing and that there are a wealth of untapped opportunities for sponsorship and investment within women’s sport.
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Bristol Bears player and Ruggette RFC founder Stef Evans is another queen to have courageously stood up for the sport we love. Stef is the brains behind the recent #icare movement which saw people all over the world express their love of girls’ and women’s rugby, sharing what it means to them and taking a stand against online trolls. And importantly, it wasn’t only the women and girls who came to the party. Some of those powerful voices included men too. It served as the catalyst for important conversations and demonstrated the strength of the female rugby community.
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England Red Rose and Saracens number eight Poppy Cleall is the latest to join the fray calling out ProDirect Rugby for their poor representation of female rugby players on their social media. ProDirect is one of the most popular online rugby retailers and where many of us buy our kit. To neglect a significant proportion of their customer base was enough for Poppy to speak up. Not only did ProDirect immediately begin posting photos of women’s rugby players on their feed, but the posts got over 2,400 likes, around four times as many as their other posts! These might seem like baby-steps, but they’re the start of something truly special and we’re all part of it.
We simply shouldn’t have to ask
Burf is calling for other brands, sponsors and retailers to step up to the plate – without being asked. It’s about moving past ignorance and being proactive about equal and accurate representation within sport. As we’ve heard from the likes of Maggie Alphonsi this week, “Rugby is not a gender, it’s a sport” and it’s time for the big players in our sport to do the right thing.
A good afternoon in the studio for ITAvFRA. As expected tho, many sexist comments about women working on men’s rugby. Those who comment are not worthy a response. Rugby is not a gender, it’s a sport and my accolades far out way what any of those sexist individuals have achieved!! pic.twitter.com/HkoJXD6HMv
— Maggie Alphonsi MBE (@MaggieAlphonsi) February 6, 2021
Applications open for male Advisory Board members
Burf is also leading the charge when it comes to encouraging more men to step forward. We are incredibly powerful and capable in our own right and for a long time have created change off our own bat, but imagine what we can do with the support of the many amazing men in our community.
There are so many men involved in our game and working, often behind the scenes and as volunteers, to give us the same opportunities as the boys. We know it can be a thankless task, but please know we are truly grateful. It’s the dads, grandads, team-mates, brothers, teachers, uncles, friends, coaches, boyfriends and husbands. We’re passing the baton to you too. Genuine support from you has the potential to truly change perceptions. Whether it’s having our back in front of your mates, calling them out on their casual sexism, attending a girls’ or women’s match, or fighting for us to have access to the number one pitch. We don’t want token gestures, we want heartfelt support.
And on that note, we’re looking for these exceptional men to serve on our Advisory Board. We have an impressive group of women already serving on the board, leading the Girls Rugby Club forward, but we need men too. We’re calling for applications and will be announcing our very first male Advisory Board members in April. To apply yourself, or to nominate someone you believe would be a great addition to our board, please complete the form here. Applications will close at 3pm on Tuesday 30th March.