Monday, 19 December 1994

England v Netherlands: report

Oliver Holt

England 30, Holland 5

BIG LOUIS the barman was rushed off his feet. The players poured out of the changing rooms, enveloped by steam, and headed for the long bar looking out over the pitch where the faces of past club presidents gazed down from the wall. It was one of the smoke-filled rooms you read about in tales of power and male prejudice and it was thronged with women.

Louis had only seen anything like it once before. There was a women's rugby A international at the Wasps ground in northwest London last year, but this was the Real McCoy. Still, he treated it as routine. There is nothing novel about women's rugby any more; England's win in the World Cup in Edinburgh, in April, saw to that. After establishment, though, comes consolidation and progress.

That process began under the light of a watery sun here yesterday when the survivors of the team that beat Russia, Canada, France and the United States to win the world title played their first game since their triumph. Despite the disruption caused by the presence of five new caps, they coasted to a 30-5 victory over Holland.

It was not a game to banish the creeping cold with endless thrills. The 80 minutes were bedevilled by a series of handling errors and a glut of inconsequential rucks and misplaced passes. Still, a 30-5 victory on the back of a patchy performance is not bad and everyone, even the world champions, can have an off day.

What continues to irk team members, though, is the supercilious tone taken by some commentators. Some devote themselves to searches of northern England, supposedly a bastion of male prejudice, for the remnants of those who scorn the idea of women playing what has always been seen as a man's game; others continue to attempt comparison with men's rugby. Both approaches marginalise the players and demean women's rugby.

The idea of sport, after all, is to try to compete at the highest level, to compete fairly and to try to win. The 500 or more who braved the cold yesterday were rewarded by the sight of 15 England players, representing the pinnacle of their particular discipline.

That the level of skill on show here was below that of the men who play rugby was irrelevant. Few question the brilliance of Steffi Graf or compare her with Pete Sampras. Equally, any who bothered to watch could only admire the athleticism of the English captain, Gill Burns, the speed and trickery of Jacqui Edwards and the tackling ability of Suzie Appleby.

Nor could anyone question the commitment and courage of Sarah Wenn, who started the game despite a bad nose injury, only to retire after 26 minutes.

Mills kicked a penalty to put England ahead in the eleventh minute and Coles atoned for an earlier error when she went over in the corner. Edwards, who had set up that try, scored the second herself five minutes after the interval.

Abbenbroek gave the Dutch some hope with a fine try midway through the second half but Burns put the match beyond doubt with England's third try, Stirrup adding a fourth in the last minute.

There are now more than 6,000 women playing rugby in Britain and the ground here yesterday was dotted with coats swearing allegiance to various clubs. Burns, happy with her first match as captain, was optimistic about the future of the game. ``It was a bit of a scrappy match in parts,'' she said. ``I think there were a few butterflies early on from the new caps. But it is behind them now and there is a lot for us to build on.

``This was the beginning of a new era for us after the World Cup. We are getting more and more coverage. We have made it beyond curious pieces on the women's pages to the point where we are forcing the game on to the sports pages. We can't worry about that too much, though, we just want to keep winning.''

ENGLAND: J Mangham (Waterloo); N Ponsford (Clifton), E Scourfield (Leeds), S Wenn (Wasps), H Stirrup (Wasps); J Chambers (Richmond), H Clayton (Waterloo), G Burns (Waterloo), S Appleby (Novacastrians), D Mills (Richmond), A Coles (Saracens), A Wallace (Leeds), J Edwards (Blackheath), J Molyneux (Waterloo), H Hulme (Clifton). Wenn replaced by T Sivek (Richmond), 26min.

HOLLAND: L Schoone; S Veltkamp, M Hibma, M Van Den Hoger, A Van Waveren; D Van den Berg, M Schmutzer; M Veldscholten, B Terpstra, E Lichtenbeld, K Abbenborek, H Van Mens, O De Bruin, G Hamilton, C De Greef.

Referee: J Fleming.

A 62nd-minute try from Sandra Williamson gave Scotland a 5-0 victory over Wales in a women's rugby international at the Brewery Field, Bridgend, yesterday.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"England take advantage of margin for error; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 19 Dec. 1994

Saturday, 17 December 1994

England v Netherlands and the formation of RFUW

David Hands

ALL the talk is of sponsorship for the domestic game, the turnover in players, the input from the divisional championship and it is all applied to women's rugby, where the international season begins tomorrow, at Wasps. England, holders of the world title they won in Edinburgh eight months ago, play Holland in what is the beginning of a new era for the game in England.

Since last season the administration has been rationalised, an international body has been formed and the four home unions have separated. The formation of the Rugby Football Union for Women, governing England only, has brought access to Sports Council grants and a greater accord with the men's governing body.

Victory over the United States also brought greater recognition from sponsors. National Car Parks has backed the divisional tournament, won by the North, and this week Vladivar Vodka brought a heady tang to the national knockout competition while marketing of the England squad is in hand.

But of the XV that carried off the world title, only eight remain to play the Dutch. There is a new captain in Gill Burns, the experienced Waterloo No8, and four newcomers, all of them behind the scrum as England look towards the next world tournament, likely to be in Canada in 1998, and examine the potential of the next generation.

Burns, 30, a PE teacher at Culcheth High School in Warrington, has no doubt about England's ability to sustain their high ranking.

ENGLAND: H Hulme (Clifton); J Molyneux (Waterloo), J Edwards (Blackheath), A Wallace (Leeds), A Cole (Saracens); D Mills (Richmond), S Appleby (Novocastrians); J Mangham (Waterloo), N Ponsford (Clifton), E Scourfield (Leeds), J Chambers (Richmond), S Wenn (Wasps), H Stirrup (Wasps), H Clayton (Waterloo), G Burns (Waterloo, captain).

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Women's game on sounder footing; Women's Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 17 Dec. 1994

Sunday, 11 December 1994

Prejudice: another response to Probyn


WHEN the England women's rugby side run out for their international against Holland at Wasps next Sunday they will be desperate not just to win, but to win in the sort of style that will make Jeff Probyn eat his words.

After a student suffered a neck injury, which did not prove serious, in a recent women's club match the former England prop and several other members of the establishment's macho brigade declared that rugby was too rough a game for women and implied that female players were a pack of harridans with broken noses and cauliflower ears.

The comments provoked an uproar, with howls of outrage or derision from most of Britain's 5,000 women players, particularly those who took part in England's splendid World Cup final victory against the United States in April. Even the unreconstructed chauvinists of the men's game began, in public at least, to duck below the parapet.

Probyn agreed to hold a somewhat tongue-in-cheek coaching session, televised by the BBC's Rugby Special, for the women's squad at Richmond Rugby Club, which boasts the biggest female section in the world. Much of the programme's obligatory joshing was for once at the expense of Probyn himself rather than the women's game.

Watching the powerful Richmond first team, who are unbeaten in the National League this season, on a wet, freezing night, rucking and mauling under floodlights, the sheer commitment and technical skills were striking.

For two of the players, Deirdre Mills at fly-half and the flanker, Jenny Chambers, there was an extra incentive as they will be on England duty next week.

Mills, 31, a stalwart of the game and a fine all-round athlete, became hooked on rugby in the last year of her degree at University College, London. She spent 10 years in the international shadows as the understudy to Karen Almond before gaining her first cap this year in England's World Cup victory over Russia. She then made her name as a place-kicker with a handful of fine conversions and a memorable long-range penalty in the match against Scotland, to the delight of the 5,000-strong crowd.

As one of a string of newcomers, Mills, a softly spoken accountant with the Birmingham Midshires Building Society, is keen to build on her growing reputation. 'It's moments like the big kick against Scotland that stay with you,' she says. 'I remember placing the ball five yards inside the touchline on the wrong side for me (she's a right-footed kicker), looking up and thinking 'Wow, that looks a helluva long way'. Then I stepped up and went boof and it was there. The team went wild because we all knew that the match against Scotland was going to be tough.'

Her kicking prowess is a legacy of childhood. 'I've got three brothers and I was always kicking a ball around with them as a child, so it's second nature really,' she says.

'These days I spend a lot of time practising place-kicking on the two evenings a week that I train with Richmond, then there's all the weights, circuits and treadmill-running at the gym on the other nights, so it's a pretty big commitment.

'The game's great, though. I love the rough and tumble of it and how as fly-half I have a huge influence on adapting our tactics to outwit different opponents. We're well trained and pit players of equal strength against each other, so I don't see why anyone should try to stop us playing. Life itself can be dangerous. In fact, it's generally fatal! I think the Probyn comments were just a cheap publicity stunt and ironically the women's game has benefited from all the coverage they got.'

Jenny Chambers, 32, a former army officer in charge of PTI training, is equally bullish about the future of women's rugby, despite Probyn's jibes. 'Since I started playing six years ago,' she says, 'the game's mushroomed incredibly with over 200 clubs and growing numbers of teenagers and young women taking it up. At the top level, the game is tactically and technically virtually as good as the men's, although there's still a lot of prejudice to overcome. I had to wait until I left the army to play it because it had a big image problem with my superior officers, who nearly fainted when I suggested starting an army side.'

However, by the end of her first practice session Chambers, who now runs a leisure centre near Heathrow, was a rugby addict and began training every day. At 5ft 9in and 10st 10lb, Chambers admits she is light for a flanker, but with her pace and abundant natural talent, she has improved rapidly. She gained her first cap last year and was on the bench for the World Cup final, coming on early in the match to play as a replacement lock for an injured team-mate.

'It sounds arrogant to say it,' she says, 'but at the final whistle, I just felt utter relief. I knew we ought to win the match after all the work we'd done on skills and tactics over the previous three years, but it was wonderful to fulfil that dream. After that performance and all the media coverage it got, we suddenly found we were being taken a lot more seriously and even the Probyn comments have worked in our favour.'

Chambers, who is a qualified coach, was unimpressed by the session Probyn took, believing it was designed to humiliate rather than instruct.

'His first drill was chip-kicking a tackle bag, tackling the bag then recovering the ball from beyond it. It was a bit chaotic, but any sensible coach would have started a session with basic warm-up skills and I think the only reason he chose such a complicated manoeuvre was to make us look inept.

'He also taught our forwards how to pull the opposing prop's elbow down to prevent her seeing the ball as it's put into the scrum. He wouldn't admit it, but that's a dangerous manoeuvre that could cause the scrum to collapse. It's also bending the laws of rugby and if I'd been there I'd have protested.

'Sadly his attitude is typical of a lot of the top male players, although there are honourable exceptions like Rory Underwood and Brian Moore who's coached us and is incredibly supportive. We don't need anyone's approval to take part, though. We'll be going out against Holland to play our own brand of fluent, attractive rugby. I'm convinced we'll win and win well.'

Source Citation
"Rugby Union: Sisters who pack a heavy punch - Sally Jones finds England's women on a forward roll as they prepare to meet Holland." Observer [London, England] 11 Dec. 1994

Monday, 28 November 1994

Prejudice: response to Probyn

Sally Jones

Winning the 1994 World Cup is just one reason why frail little flowers can play rugby, says Sally Jones.

It had to happen. After 12 years of growth in relative obscurity, women's rugby is in the dock thanks to one unfortunate neck injury in a club match and some ill-judged remarks from that celebrated penseur and wit, Jeff Probyn, the former England prop.

The injury, to a 20-year-old student, was caused when a scrum collapsed during a match between Portsmouth University and Worthing. The woman was airlifted to Odstock Hospital in Salisbury, where the neck injury was found to be painful but less severe than at first feared, with one bone broken, the vertebrae bruised but apparently no irreparable damage to the spinal cord.

Probyn used the incident to launch an attack on women's rugby as a whole, saying that the game was unsuitable for women and that its rapid expansion would result in more injuries. On BBC radio he declared: ``Women have a place in society, and that's a certain place, and I don't think it includes playing on rugby fields.'' He claimed that women were not physically capable of a game where the collapse of a scrum might bring half a ton of people down on one player.

``Bah, humbug!'' was the typical reaction from leading women rugby players over this piece of misplaced gallantry. So what gives Probyn the right to try to deny over half the population the chance to take part in one of the most exciting team games known to man (and, increasingly, to woman)? And why should it be perfectly acceptable for men to break their necks and pull their hamstrings, but not women?

Admittedly, rugby is a potentially dangerous game. According to Sports Council statistics, rugby players run a higher risk of injury than competitors in any other sport. On average, each player runs a one-in-ten chance of sustaining at least a minor injury on every outing. Most seasons bring a small crop of tragic incidents of players (thankfully, no women so far) crippled for life after breaking their necks or backs.

With such a high incidence of injury, nobody who plays rugby can be unaware of the risks. The England international, Carol Isherwood, one of the founders of the Women's Rugby Football Union (WRFU) and a highly-experienced coach, admits: ``All sport carries an element of danger and you can only reduce that so far. What we do is make sure that people are adequately coached and have the technique to deal with everything from scrums to lineouts. We'd never dream of putting slight teenage newcomers in sides with a lot of powerful experienced players, and we have a very good injury record indeed because of this.

``It's outrageous for Probyn to lay down the law on what is acceptable and what is feminine. Perhaps he should redefine his concept of femininity and also his ideas about commitment. We ran a World Cup on less than the Twickenham champagne budget, and the game's taken off safely and successfully, despite us having to operate on a shoestring. The likes of Probyn have no idea how far we've come on negligible resources and his remarks belittle everything we've achieved.''

Carolyn Carr, development officer of the Women's Sports Foundation, was equally indignant: ``Why should it still be so unacceptable in some quarters for women to play a physical contact sport? It's certainly rooted in all the traditional prejudices, and the way the men treasure the macho bit of being a big, tough, he-man rugby player. Maybe they think that image loses a bit of its impact when more and more women are showing that they too can play.''

Certainly women's rugby has grown rapidly in popularity since the WRFU was founded in 1983 from a hard core of around 200 players representing 12 clubs. More than 5,000 women play regularly, as well as hundreds of girls under the age of 12 playing the less physical New Image rugby in mixed teams as part of the initiative of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to introduce youngsters to the game.

At international level the home nations are improving fast. England, beaten finalists in the first women's World Cup in Cardiff three years ago, went one better in May, taking the world title in spectacular style over the defending champions, America.

Slowly the women's game is attracting wider and more enlightened media coverage. The BBC televised highlights of both World Cups, and there are growing numbers of features in which journalists discuss the game and its stars on their merits rather than treating the very idea of women playing rugby with the same sniggering prurience that Les Dawson once brought to jokes about female mud wrestlers.

I still vividly remember covering England's first international against France at Richmond in the late Eighties and overhearing a male reporter asking one of the home side whether the players would swap shirts after the match. The reply from this highly trained, dedicated athlete at the start of the most important match of her career was to the point and quite unprintable.

Of course, large pockets of this type of patronising chauvinism remain, particularly among the more bovine male players who like to imagine rugby as an exclusively masculine ritual, and any woman who tries to muscle in is at best unfeminine and at worst lesbian a major term of abuse in such circles. During a recent edition of Rugby Special, a clip of women's rugby was shown. After much guffawing one of the male studio guests declared that he would never date a woman rugby player, as though they were members of a different breed, like a particularly brutal species of Martian.

It is the same knee-jerk male chauvinism that until recently dictated that we frail little flowers who are perfectly capable of bearing children and who, in the old Eastern bloc countries, are doing most of the hard dirty manual jobs were too delicate to run marathons, train as fighter pilots or compete at 400-metres hurdles. Try telling that to the likes of Sally Gunnell and Rosa Mota.

As Sue Dorrington, the England hooker, declared wearily: ``No one sees the likes of Jason Leonard and Jeremy Guscott getting injured and sidelined for months on end and says `men shouldn't play rugby', so why should they say that to us? I've had my share of knocks and bruises we all have but we're responsible adults and we accept that. I don't need anyone's approval to play this game. Rugby has given me a wonderful social life, a level of fitness most other people can only dream about and some of the greatest moments of my life. To deny me that because I might get hurt is paternalistic and utterly ludicrous.''


How to join.

Women's rugby: There are more than 250 clubs in Britain. For details of your local one contact Rosie Golby, The Rugby Football Union, Twickenham TW1 1DZ (081-892 8161)

Mini-rugby: David Shaw, the RFU's National Coaching and Youth Development Officer, says: ``Contact your local rugby club and see if mini rugby is provided. You must check that they operate with a qualified coach. It is also worth choosing a club which gives a caring impression.''

There are 2,500 registered rugby clubs in England and 8,000 mini rugby teams. For more information contact The RFU National Coaching and Youth Development Office, Nortonthorpe Mills, Scissett, West Yorkshire. HD8 9LA. Similar schemes are run by the rugby authorities in Wales and Scotland.

The cost: Will vary, but Saracens charges Pounds 40 per year for family membership which includes the insurance. You do not pay extra if you have more than one child in the scheme.

Kitting out Claire Humphreys cost: Boots Pounds 20. Safety studs Pounds 4. Shorts Pounds 10. Shirt Pounds 15. Socks Pounds 5. Gumshield Pounds 3.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Good try, lads, but we're still playing; Women's Rugby." Times [London, England] 28 Nov. 1994

Thursday, 24 November 1994

Woman badly hurt in rugby match; Portsmouth University

Lucy Berrington

A WOMAN rugby player was in hospital with severe spinal injuries yesterday after a scrum collapsed on her.

It is the most serious accident since women's rugby took off in Britain three years ago and raises fresh questions about the safety of one of the fastest-growing women's sports in the country. The 20-year-old student from Portsmouth University women's team was injured during a home match against Worthing Ladies on Sunday.

The game was abandoned when players realised that the woman was badly injured. She was taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, then flown in a coastguard helicopter to the Odstock Spinal Injuries Unit in Salisbury.

A spokesman for Portsmouth University said: ``She was trapped underneath the scrum and it became apparent she had been badly hurt.''

Yesterday the woman's condition was said to be stable. The university spokesman said that the player's neck was injured but not thought to be broken and another bone had fractured.

The accident has revived controversy over the spread of women's rugby, the popularity of which was boosted by England's win in the world rugby union championship for women, held in Edinburgh in April.

Jeff Probyn, the former England international who recently caused a furore when he said that the game was too physical for women, said yesterday: ``I'm not sexist but it's confirmed the fear that I voiced that at some point a woman would get injured. The more people that play, the less technically competent they are and the more likely to be injured.''

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Woman badly hurt in rugby match; Portsmouth University." Times [London, England] 22 Nov. 1994

Sunday, 13 November 1994

Prejudice: Jeff Probyn

ENGLISH women's rugby union has come a long way since an after-dinner speaker at London Irish said they could do with more players who look like Farrah Fawcett-Majors and play like Wade Dooley instead of the other way round. Victory in 24 of their 25 international matches should surely have convinced the England team's male counterparts of the validity of the women's game? Sadly not.

On a BBC Rugby Special programme broadcast last month, the England prop Jeff Probyn criticised their appearance and told 1.5m viewers he was not in favour of women playing from any point of view.

The women's First Division leaders, Richmond, invited Probyn to a training session in an attempt to change his mind. After two and a half hours in the mud and rain, Probyn said: ``I still don't think they should play. Girls with cauliflower ears aren't attractive and the risk of lower-abdomen injury can't be good for them in terms of having babies.''

In fact, there was a distinct lack of cauliflower ears among the women on the field but if, as Probyn believes, looks are important perhaps he should take a look in the mirror.

Source Citation
"Fouroux told to send in the clowns; Inside Track." Sunday Times [London, England] 13 Nov. 1994

Sunday, 4 September 1994

Sportswomen of the year

Stephen Jones

Stephen Jones celebrates England's world-title-winning women's rugby team.

THE CLASSIC counter to the team with brilliant backs has always been to scrummage the soul out of them, to push them back so that their backs are trying to be brilliant from the back foot. Try pushing back a tractor in low gear.

In the final of the world championship played in Scotland earlier this year, England's tactical planners knew from previous rounds that they could scrummage the life out of the USA, the holders of the world title and their oponents in the world final. ``We could see from their semi-final against Wales that the Americans hadn't really come on technically since the last tournament, especially in the scrums,'' Carole Isherwood, one of the England team coaches, said.

But would England take up the option? They knew that a big crowd and television cameras would be present, hoping to see a running feast, and they knew that, essentially, the women's game is still based on skills that have disappeared from the men's game, not on simple confrontation. Thankfully, the team and the coaches made precisely the right decision.

If the tournament, itself reflecting the almost unbelievable growth in the women's game, was as big as it was cracked up to be, then it had to be worth winning with all the legal means at their disposal, not worth treating as some sort of glitzy festival that would have presented the match, gift-wrapped, to Candy Orsini, Jen Crawford and the clever American backs.

England set themselves from the first scrum. In a remarkable match, they almost drove the Americans out of the stadium through the back entrance. England were awarded two penalty tries when the American scrum caved in and disintegrated under pressure, and Gill Burns, the No8, scored another from close range.

England won 38-23, their power restricting the American backs to four tries. England also made progress by forcing the Americans to run possession, even when it was ragged. The deposed holders were less than ecstatic afterwards but, for unapologetic excellence, it was one of the team efforts of the sporting year, and has led to the England team's nomination in the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year competition.

``We wanted to starve them of possession,'' Isherwood said. ``They were trying to play a seven-a-side game with 15 players. We played to the laws for 15 players. We did not play negatively; we played some good rugby and scored a really good try from long range. In the previous final we lost after winning 60 per cent of the ball. This time we exploited our superiority.''

THE Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year competition is held in conjunction with Moet and Chandon, the Central Council of Physical Recreation and British Airways. For an entry form please write to: Emma Robertson, PO Box 480, London E1 9XW.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"When push comes to shove Burns and Co have the edge; Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year awards." Sunday Times [London, England] 4 Sept. 1994

Tuesday, 3 May 1994

World cup final: report

Sally Jones

WHY can't our men be more like our women? The resounding victory by England in the women's rugby union world championship last Sunday is the latest in a string of female successes that ought to put the English male to shame.

True, the rugby men of England reached the final of their last World Cup in 1991. But they lost. Last summer, while the men were failing by some distance to regain the Ashes from the Australians, the England women cricketers won the World Cup, beating the powerful New Zealand and Australia teams along the way. England also reached the final of the last men's cricket World Cup. But they lost.

As the England men's football team sits out the World Cup in the United States this summer, the England women's team has qualified for the quarter-finals of the European championship without losing a game. In their preliminary pool, the women did not concede a goal in home-and-away matches against Slovenia, Belgium and Spain.

Why are the women's teams so much more successful than the men's? Most women's sport, however successful, attracts only a fraction of the media coverage given to the men's. Realistic sponsorship is therefore rare and, because of lack of funds, the sports are generally administered by well-meaning but lowly-paid amateurs with little idea of the hard commercial realities involved in the arcane trade-offs and compromises underlying most television contracts. The England women's rugby side could find no sponsors in the run-up to the world championship, despite an exemplary record and status as joint-favourites with the United States. It cost each player an estimated Pounds 6,000 to take part in the event and the preceding internationals.

Despite impressive levels of television coverage, and outstanding performances in the previous internationals against Australia in 1992, the England netball team only achieved sponsorship at the last moment and would otherwise have faced another hefty loss on the television production costs, which must be paid by the game's governing body.

The players, too, pay thousands of pounds a year out of their pockets and take unpaid leave to compete, in contrast to most male internationals, who take paid leave and receive generous grants and expenses as a matter of course. Ironically, the hardship that most leading sportswomen face may be one element of their success. Only the most dedicated would even consider an international career and, for those who do, it is a vocation rather than a route to fame and fortune.

The high profile enjoyed by Carling, Guscott, Underwood and Co has set them up for life in a range of glamorous careers, from television presenting to motivational training and sports promotions, despite the lack of direct payment during their amateur days. By contrast, few will remember the names of Jacquie Edwards, Gill Burns or Sue Dorrington, the England rugby heroines, for more than a couple of weeks. For Dorrington, who captained England in the match against Scotland last week, the constant financial pressures act as an extra incentive.

``We've bonded incredibly closely, perhaps because of all the problems, and it makes us appreciate our success more keenly,'' she said. ``For the inaugural world championship, in Cardiff three years ago, four of us re-mortgaged our houses to guarantee the event could take place. You can hardly imagine any of the male stars making those sorts of sacrifices.

``This year, without sponsors, we've had to fight just as hard. We've stood in freezing car parks, selling raffle tickets and Christmas cards to raise the money we needed to compete. After sacrificing so much, that determination and commitment showed in the way we played. The men's international sides in most sports get amazing levels of back-up and expenses. If we'd had a fraction of their advantages, our lives would have been transformed.''

Karen Smithies, captain of the England women's cricket team, takes a similar view. She said: ``The monetary aspect of male team sports is taking the pride away from playing for one's country. We are honoured when we pull on our shirts to play for England. It costs us a lot of money to play top-class women's cricket. Men have things easier and if you have things easier, you are not used to setbacks. When we are up against it, we dig more deeply into our resources of character.''

Smithies has represented England since 1986. ``If you make great sacrifices, you become more resilient,'' she said. ``My parents and I have had to scrimp and save to support my cricketing career. At one stage, we even had to pay for the embroidery of the England badge on our sweaters. The men could learn a lot from the women.''

Ted Copeland, the England women's football manager, admires the attitude of his charges. ``It's terrific,'' he said. ``They're tremendously proud to represent their country and have a collective determination to be winners.''

Dr Anita White, head of development at the Sports Council, said: ``Women in sport generally have to be particularly determined. They have to fight for the right just to compete and this can prepare them mentally for taking on their opponents. Part of the reason England are doing well in team sports is that women's participation internationally, certainly in rugby union and football, is relatively new. These sports are relatively underdeveloped. In England, many women work together with men to improve their standards. This is to be welcomed.

``In women's rugby, with minimal resources, what they have done is fantastic. Many of the players are also able young administrators. Those making the decisions are close to the game.''

After England's defeat in the rugby world championship final in 1991, Dorrington hired a personal trainer and began working out three hours a day to achieve the levels of fitness that spurred on the rest to follow suit. ``I think women as a group are better team members than men,'' she said. ``We communicate better and are more compatible. We're also more perfectionist and take instruction better; so many men are real know-alls. As far as international women's rugby is concerned, we had a giggle after we won the championship and asked ourselves: `Now will we be invited on to A Question Of Sport and Sports Review Of The Year? Will they finally acknowledge us'.

``Our problem is not our playing standard but attracting recognition. The men, even the second-raters, are celebrities. We should take charge of the publicity situation to make sure we don't just slip back into obscurity.''

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"If only England's men could be more like the sporting women; Women's Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 3 May 1994

Sunday, 24 April 1994

World cup: This is not proper rugby - and it's time women knew

Mark Reason

CANDI ORSINI is a stuntwoman who makes her living by jumping off high buildings and crashing cars. She will earn nothing for her pains when she plays centre for the United States against England in this afternoon's final of the women's rugby world championship in Edinburgh.

Given her profession, she ought to redefine the term crash-ball centre, but that is not her style. Instead, she is one of the deftest ball-handlers I have seen, and that includes most of the concrete-handed threequarters in this year's Five Nations championship.

Orsini plays like a Frenchman, like Charvet or Cordoniou, and there can hardly be a higher compliment. The French centres ``fixe'' the tackler as they pass. They hold his eyes, carry the ball high, take him out by attacking the inside shoulder, and then they deliver.

That is Orsini's talent. Three times in the semi-final massacre of Wales she made tries through exquisite passes, and every one was given with the tackler about to enter the demolition business.

There can be no doubt that her career as a stuntwoman last seen alongside Bob Hoskins in Super Mario Bros and soon to be continued in Hulk Hogan's Thunder in Paradise is a huge benefit. Kipling's ``If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs'' is one thing, but to keep your head when the odds favour decapitation is quite another.

``I don't know if rugby helps stunt work or if stunt work helps rugby,'' Orsini said. ``I do know that because kicking is not so good in the women's game, it has helped to perfect our passing.

``Our coach Franck Boivert (yes, he's French, and he is also married to Elise Huffer, Orsini's centre companion and another astute passer) wants us to keep the ball alive, to use the whole field. We practise running off the ball, we practise switching from group handling to spreading the line, we practise a lot of running from deep onto the ball.''

And they learn quickly. Not just Orsini, but also the fly-half Jos Bergmann and full-back Jen Crawford, outstanding runners who benefit from her guile.

All three have one thing in common: they are all athletes. Orsini is not just a stuntwoman, but an expert water-skier and an Olympic handball gold medallist. Bergmann has played football for 14 years. Crawford was the first female high school basketball player to score 1,000 points in a season. You may not have to be an athlete to play rugby well, but you do have to be athletic.

Maybe that is part of the reason why the USA are averaging 91 points a game, and why their backs are the only real gold in a tournament of dross. Orsini and Co prove that women can play rugby to a very high level, but at the moment more players than not would struggle to make a school third XV.

England are the only other consistent exceptions to that, and even they have only four or five players of real quality. What they do have is a pack, and a fly-half who will attempt to deny the USA any possession today. That and the belief of Karen Almond, the English fly-half, that the USA are not good under pressure. England's chance of winning lies in the strength of their pack, the direction of their half-backs and the hope that the Americans will bottle it.

What they also have is a dreary attitude to the game. In their semi-final against France they played a joyless, attritional slog that had one gagging on recent memories of their male international counterparts. Women's rugby has only really been going for 10 years and you had hoped that it would still be fun. Happily, that is the way of most teams, but England already wear the tortured earnestness of the professional sportswoman.

The only people entitled to such expressions were in the tiny crowd. The little relief they had was in the sly observation of how the women mirror the national styles of the men. The Scots love to ruck. Ireland have a feisty scrum-half and some quirky manoeuvres; they even attempted the garryowen once or twice, but nobody had the leg power to achieve it. England are the roast beefs. And the French showed a typical mixture of flair and naughty confrontation.

Their lock, Valerie Lenoir, was spoken to three times by the referee in their semi-final. In the end she was shrugging and offering dismissive hand gestures with true Gallic genius. She left the pitch with a rude one-fingered sign at the English. She only fell short by not assaulting the referee in the tunnel.

The real shortfall, though, is in the quality of the women's game. Debbie Francis, a winger who played for England in the last World Cup and who now represents Scotland, said: ``I think there is an appalling lack of publicity and interest in women's rugby.''

It strikes me that there is an extraordinarily large amount of publicity, given the generally low standards of play. The kicking is abysmal. Ball-retention in the tackle is fragile, to say the least. There are more turnovers than in a chain of pastry shops. Barely half of the kicks are caught at the first attempt. Tackling is high, as are most of the scrummaging positions. Passes are shovelled.

Unfortunately, little of the publicity points this out. The tendency is to treat women's rugby as a freak show that is really played to a very high level. Such a pretence is not politically correct, it is downright patronising. It says: ``You are really quite good, considering you're girls.''

Try telling the truth. Most of you are not very good. You're not within light years of the standard that women could reach.

These things wouldn't be worth saying if the women were playing for fun, with a ``sod the rest of you'' attitude, but they are not. They are playing to promote their game, to encourage sponsorship, to increase coverage, perhaps even to persuade the likes of the RFU to assist them financially. Money, however, is usually drawn to quality products and until the standard of play dramatically improves money will be scarce.

That is a bit of a catch-22, because the women could do with such money to finance a recruitment campaign to attract the type of co-ordinated sportswomen that the game so badly needs. For the sake of that endeavour, I hope that the Americans win today, and that they show the elan of their rugby in doing so.

They are worth watching. And the spectacle might just attract a better class of sportswoman to take up the game and raise women's rugby to a level that really would be worth talking about.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"This is not proper rugby - and it's time women knew; Womens Rugby Union." Sunday Times [London, England] 24 Apr. 1994

World cup: Scotland v Canada

Debbie Francis

BEFORE the game we talked through our objectives and one of the questions the coaches asked was: ``What would we not be happy with today?'' We said we did not want a narrow win; that we wanted to play exciting rugby. Throughout the game, then, we tried to run and run when perhaps others would have played safe. I think we achieved what we set out to do, defeating Canada by 11 points to five.

We dominated the first 10 minutes by sticking to our game plan, but even though the Canadians came back strongly in the second and third quarters we weren't worried. In all the games in the tournament we have finished very strongly. We knew that if we stuck at it the same thing would happen.

This tournament has given the Scottish women's team their first chance to put in a lot of work together and we've improved enormously in the last fortnight. Our forwards, in particular, have surpassed themselves. The Canadians thought we might be fragile in that area but our pack was magnificent, especially as Canada tried to attack round the fringes so often.

I suppose the fact that the referee could only award lineouts and not scrums after we had lost our two props both world-class players should have counted against us. But the scrums had been pretty even up to that point, and our lineout jumpers responded superbly when the challenge was put to them. Jenny Sheerin's try at the end came direct from a lineout and I don't think even we would have expected that.

The Canadians seemed to underestimate the very areas of our game where we performed best.

It almost counted against them at one stage because the Canadian No6 broke off from a scrum on the line and we would have scored a pushover try had that scrum not collapsed. We knew they would fear the tackling of Pogo Paterson and Kim Littlejohn, our centres, and as they had a kicking stand-off I think we knew how they would play it.

Women's rugby as a whole tends to have a very low profile and it has been particularly low in Scotland in the past. I think this fortnight will have opened many people's eyes in Scotland. Before, during and for a little while after the tournament the attention that is paid is enormous and I just hope it can carry on from there.

Because it is such a new sport here the response has been surprising. The crowds have played an invaluable part, not least in the big matches against England and Canada. They provided a major boost to our game.

The hope now is that sponsors will realise just how popular the game now is and will become in the future. We've had good support so far but more of the same will be needed to take us up to the next level.

The crowd had to be intense, because at this stage of the tournament we were all very, very tired. As a new squad we don't have real strength in depth and the girls who have taken part have had to play their hearts out. They were an inspiration. It made a huge psychological difference.

We changed the tactics slightly for this game. We knew that they would play close to the gain line to harass our midfield, so knowing that they also doubted the strength in our pack, we concentrated on the secondary drive by the forwards and on chipping over their defence.

If Canada had any doubts about our place kicking then Elaine Black's two penalties were a fine response.

Two weeks of intensive coaching have worked wonders for us. Our forwards' lines of running have improved immensely the kind of stuff that they simply did not know a month ago.

In the championship final at Raeburn Place I think we will see two very different styles of rugby. The Americans will want to run everything as they have magnificent support players among their backs. But the English forwards should match the Americans technically, and if they can win clean ball and their backs are adventurous then it will be a very exciting game.

However, if England play boring, safe rugby, I'd like to see the fast-handling Americans win.

Our concern against Canada was to play a good game of rugby; we would have been disappointed if, in winning, we had been dull to watch.

We have had a truly magnificent tournament. We've played the kind of rugby that people want to see. We've certainly played the game we've wanted to play. I hope that the final is just as good an advert.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Change of tactics brings a happy ending for Scotland; Women's Rugby." Sunday Times [London, England] 24 Apr. 1994

Saturday, 23 April 1994

World Cup: final preview

David Hands

THE first world rugby union championship for women ended in an American victory, a grin of delight that the organisers had successfully negotiated their self-imposed hurdle and a grimace at the bills that were left to pay. The second championship, which ends in Edinburgh tomorrow, may reproduce the first two results, but not the third.

Good housekeeping by the Scottish organising committee has left it confident of a modest surplus with which to nourish the development of the women's game. It budgeted on the basis that each game in the 12-team championship would be watched by no more than 50 paying spectators. In the event, the crowd that attended the encounter last week between Scotland and England (variously estimated at between 3,500 and 4,000) ensured against failure.

``The tournament was always going to cover its

costs,'' George Williamson, the financial controller, said. Williamson, a banker in Edinburgh, is married to the Scotland scrum half, Sandra, and formed part of an energetic committee, chaired by Sue Brodie, which refused to let the tournament die after Holland's withdrawal as hosts only 90 days before the scheduled start.

``Before everything began, we had enough sponsorship for the brochure to cover most costs,'' Williamson said. The Scottish team also received a development loan of Pounds 2,500 from the Scottish Sports Council, which had been refunded even before the final at Edinburgh Academicals tomorrow, when the United States, the holders, play England, as they did in 1991 in Cardiff.

``We learned from the experience of the previous tournament too and erred on the side of caution,'' Williamson said. ``It's amazing the way it has taken off. Since the tournament began, Melrose have decided to set up a women's section and I have had calls from people asking how they can start clubs. It will put women's rugby on the map here.''

The icing on the cake would be a final of high quality. Three years ago, the Americans dominated a stagestruck England team to win 19-6; in Scotland, they have pulverised opponents by the quality of their running and the power of their tackling.

England, whose ability to reproduce the strengths and weaknesses of the men's national team is remarkable, will go in as underdogs, despite the win over the United States in Toronto last summer.

That, generally speaking, is the way English teams prefer to be seen and a position from which they have been known to win.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Scotland reaps reward for women's game; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 23 Apr. 1994

Thursday, 21 April 1994

World Cup: final preview

David Hands, Rugby Correspondent

A QUIET sunny afternoon in Galashiels is an unlikely venue for mould-breaking but, yesterday, across the road from the Scottish College of Textiles, the American Eagles wove a new and distinguished thread into the brief history of women's rugby union.

On Sunday, they will defend the title they won in Cardiff three years ago when they play England in the final of the women's world championship at Edinburgh Academicals. If England are unable to raise the level of their game from their semi-final yesterday, when they scraped together an 18-6 win over France, then they will lose again to the free-flying Eagles.

The technical quality of the women's game has risen dramatically, if unevenly, over the last three years. The fundamentals of kicking and tackling are now of a different order. But the Americans have injected another dimension of pace and skill into back play, critically in the key attacking roles of stand-off half and full back.

If pride of place in the 56-15 semi-final defeat of Wales at Netherdale went to Jen Crawford for her five tries, she owed much to the elusive running and handling of her colleagues, qualities which seem to have deserted the men's international game and with which the Welsh defence could not cope.

Crawford, an all-round athlete who includes football, lacrosse and basketball in her repertoire, joins a select band. Only three men have ever scored five tries in international rugby: G.C. Lindsay, of Scotland, in 1887, ``Dan'' Lambert, of England, in 1907 and Rory Underwood, of England, in 1989. All three were wings whereas Crawford, selected as a centre originally, played full back against the Welsh.

Remarkably, she did not register in the pool game against Sweden, which the United States won 111-0, though she did score three tries against Ireland in the quarter-final.

``They put me at full back because of my pace and the two girls in the centre are good ball handlers,'' Crawford, who played centre in the 1991 final, said.

Indeed, the fingertip quality of the midfield play was never better illustrated than in her final try, the fourth of the last quarter which swept away the hopes of a gallant Wales.

They had the limited satisfaction of scoring the first points the United States have conceded in the tournament, two tries from Liza Burgess at pushover scrums and one from Bess Evans after a quickly taken penalty.

They also exposed the way in which the Americans may be beaten, by keeping the ball tight and driving the scrums or the mauls one was timed at more than two minutes, surpassing by far the long-distance effort of Pontypridd in the recent Swalec Cup semi-final against Cardiff but once the Americans find daylight, it will be a good team who can live with them.

``That's the way we like to play the game,'' Crawford said. ``If we are behind our own line and there's an overlap, we'll go for it.''

With the speed oozing from their back division, and the capable support of such as Sheri Hunt, the flanker, they can afford so expansionist a policy.

England's aim will be to deny them possession, in the way they did the French. Had their jumpers not dominated the lineout the result might have been different, and only in the dying minutes did Karen Almond put matters beyond doubt with a solo try which compensated for some erratic tactical kicking.

Almond, for so long the mainstay of England and Great Britain teams since the first women's international in 1986, participated in the game last summer when England beat the United States in Toronto to win the Canada Cup. ``They have a good set of backs, but they didn't play so well under pressure,'' the England captain said. But she and her colleagues will do well to dampen the threat coming from so many different directions.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Crawford shines as Eagles fly high; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 21 Apr. 1994

Wednesday, 20 April 1994

World Cup: semi-final preview

David Hands

Earlier this year, Will Carling, the England captain, mused on the desirability of players having greater input in the administration of rugby union, as they did during the game's infancy. Away from first-class rugby, however, it happens all the time, nowhere more than in the women's game, where a do-it-yourself philosophy has fostered a burgeoning game.

Indeed, women's rugby has grown to such a degree that, in Edinburgh on Friday, delegates from all the countries competing in the women's world championship in Scotland, plus several who are not, will confer over the viability of the next championship and the possible formation of an international body. Among those present will be Keith Rowlands, the secretary of the (men's) International Rugby Football Board (IRFB).

The Women's Rugby Football Union (WRFU), now ten years old, will also decide at its annual meeting next month whether to break into its component national parts. It has been the umbrella organisation for Britain since its inception last year, but the Scots formed a union and affiliated to the Scottish Rugby Union and now England, Wales and Ireland are likely to go the same way.

In a short time, the women have achieved a formidable amount, without much assistance from the men's game or sponsors. Their world championship the semi-finals are in Galashiels today, with the final at Edinburgh Academicals on Sunday is being played on a shoestring.

The Scots have performed wonders in the last three months, since stepping into the breach left by Holland, but the competitors have funded themselves. What the WRFU would love to do, perhaps in the closing stages of their championship, is erase an image problem. Rather than the media rediscovering them at infrequent intervals, the players seek the mainstream acceptance that women in other sports, notably hockey, have won. That alone might overcome the doubts sponsors entertain about women playing rugby and create more opportunities for television.

Maybe it will happen if England win on Sunday. Success against France today will put them in the final, probably against the United States, who beat them 19-6 in the 1991 final in Cardiff. The Americans play Wales today.

Rowlands's attendance on Friday is to discover more about an area of the game some of his member unions report is the fastest growing of any. In Ireland three years ago, there were no recognised clubs and only six in Scotland. The Scots now have 30 and there are 201 in England, Wales and Ireland.

Last week, Rosie Golby, the secretary of the WRFU, and Dudley Wood, the secretary of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), discussed membership of the RFU. The RFU is supportive, but the women want to maintain their identity, even though they know a formal association with the men's governing body may lead to grants and greater financial recognition from the Sports Council.

``Women's rugby is still very different from the men's game,'' Golby said. ``There are few people on the executive committee who don't play and we know what decisions we are making and what the impact will be.'' Would that the men could say the same.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Women strive for recognition; Women's Rugby." Times [London, England] 20 Apr. 1994

Monday, 18 April 1994

World cup; England v Canada

Alan Lorimer

ENGLAND, joint favourites to win the women's rugby world championship, cleared the quarter-final hurdle by defeating Canada 24-10 at Galashiels yesterday. England won the try count by 4-1 and left the impression that they have a lot more scoring power in reserve.

Canada, although strong in defence, could not match the technical skills of the England forwards who dominated the lineouts, through some athletic jumping from Gill Burns and Heather Stirrup, who provided the bulk of England's posession from this source.

With Karen Almond, the stand-off and captain, both long and accurate with her line-kicking Canada found it difficult to get into the match.

Jacqui Edwards, the Blackheath centre, and Annie Cole, the Saracens wing, crossed for tries in the first half. The second-half scorers were Emma Mitchell and Almond, who landed two conversions. Josee LaCasse scored a late try for Canada which was converted by Natashe Shiels, who also kicked a penalty.

Wales joined England in the semi-finals, where they will meet the United States, as the result of an 8-0 victory over Scotland at Melrose.

In a closely fought match, played at a furious pace, Wales struck a telling blow ten minutes from full time when Kim Yau scored a try after the full back, Kate Richards, had come cleverly into the line. Amanda Bennet, the stand-off, missed the conversion kick but did succeed with a penalty to seal victory.

Scotland matched the Welsh in dynamic forward play but in the final reckoning the greater experience of the Welsh side and the combined skills of Lisa Burgess, a powerful No8, and Bess Evans at scrum half, provided their country with a decisive advantage.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"England advance in impressive fashion; Women's Rugby." Times [London, England] 18 Apr. 1994

Sunday, 17 April 1994

World cup: feature

Sue Mott

THE audible crunch of the scrum was proof, if any were needed, that the first ever women's rugby international between Scotland and England was no place for flower-arrangers. The scoffs of macho detractors died in the throat as the thunderous business of England's 26-0 victory riveted the attention of 5,000 devotees at Boroughmuir RFC in Edinburgh on Friday.

Three tries and the accurate boot of Deidrie Mills ensured England's unbeaten progress to the quarter-finals of the women's rugby world championship. But it was the standard of the mauls, rucks and tackles that had the crowd on its feet in admiration and exhortation. The Scots sang Flower of Scotland, the England bench screamed: ``Get in her face!''

England, beaten only once in five years, are on course for a final showdown against the USA, whose 121-0 win over Japan was both an indication of brute force and the lack of stature of their opponents. With a 4ft 11in shop assistant in the squad and two players aged 47, Japan were long shots for the crown.

But Scotland were pround of themselves. Sandra ``Gnomi'' Williamson played with the snap and ferocity of Gary Armstrong at scrum-half, while the forwards, exemplified by Pogo Paterson, were ``superb, committed, gutsy'', according to full-back Mickey Cave.

There was never any doubt in high places that the world championship would be a success. The president of Kazakhstan sent his team into the fray with this ringing endorsement: ``This tournament of youth, sport and beauty will stay a brilliant memory in the hearts of all the participants.''

He probably did not have in mind the night 10 of the Irish team graced a policemen's disco with one of their number dressed in a size 26 nylon floral dress and yellow-flowered swimming cap. But it was a ``brilliant memory'' anyway. Not least for the policemen who arrived at the Irish hotel next morning to express their personal admiration.

The world championship is that sort of event. An exuberant mix of fierce pride, practical jokes and penury with tooth-rattling tackles thrown in. ``I wouldn't like to put our first team out against that lot,'' a male voice was heard to mutter as the Scots and Russians collided at Gala on Wednesday.

A number of preconceptions that women rugby players are a bunch of big, butch Berthas with whom one would not share even a well-lit alley have been ripped asunder and thrown to the merry Scottish winds.

Kazakhstan, for instance, have a hairdresser in the team. They are here for the greater glory of the former Soviet republic and the experience of foreign competition. They had played only three internationals before this. They had never seen tackle bags or rucking shields before they used each other instead.

They were, however, magnificently well-organised compared with the Russians who arrived at Manchester airport with no transport to Edinburgh, nowhere to stay and no money to pay for it. But, responding to the Scottish equivalent of Dunkirk spirit, a coach company donated a bus and driver and StJohn's Hospital, Livingstone, found space in their nurses' quarters. Handy for the Accident and Emergency Department.

Admittedly, the bus subsequently failed its MOT and the Russians were 30 minutes late for the Scotland match. ``No problem,'' said one of the tournament organisers, operating from a cupboard in Meadowbank Stadium. ``It gave more time for the crowd to gather.''

The fact the championship is being held at all, when Holland withdrew as hosts only 90 days before the scheduled start, is a tribute to Scots efficiency, shameless begging and sheer madness.

``The sport does tend to attract boisterous types,'' Joanne Hall, the Ireland team manager, said. ``Total headers, we call them. But you have very, very quiet girls taking up rugby too. Funnily enough, they're often the most aggressive on the pitch. It does bring out the assertive in you but I've found I'm a lot easier to live with when I play rugby.''

Everybody plays down the violence. ``All sports can be physical,'' the players tend to say, as though savage collisions with 13 stones worth of lose-head prop are an everyday occurrence. Still, Debbie Francis, Scotland's vice-captain, received her worst injury, a broken ankle, when she tripped while out shopping.

The women who play rugby are adamant that no other sport could possibly provide the same camaraderie or intense satisfaction. ``It's the challenge,'' Francis said. ``A girl doesn't have too many chances to use her body to the absolute maximum. This is it.''

Commitment is total. Each Scottish player paid more than Pounds 400 to take part and the Irish team up to Pounds 600 each. The pervasive pennilessness, the youth of the sport, the panic-stations organising and the fact that Scottish students were last-minute replacements for Spain have all contributed to aspersions that the world championship is no better than a glorified scrum.

But it has changed attitudes, enlivened police discos and, most precious of all, given the sport a hefty shove towards national esteem.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"As we thought, rugby is a girls' game; Rugby Union." Sunday Times [London, England] 17 Apr. 1994

Saturday, 16 April 1994

World cup: England v Scotland

Alan Lorimer

Scotland 0, England 26

IT MAY not have been Murrayfield but a crowd of 5,000 at Meggetland last night produced the equivalent atmosphere for the first women's rugby match between Scotland and England.

England's greater experience during this world championship match was particularly evident in their forward play, which produced quality second-phase possession, in contrast to the Scots, who struggled to win ball at the breakdown points.

Helen Harding, of England, was impressive at scrum half, her pass of either hand being both quick and accurate, and at stand-off, Deidre Mills kicked with exemplary skill. She scored three penalties and a conversion from seven attempts.

England's centres were more alert to opportunities and it was a classic break by Giselle Pragnelle that produced a try for Paula George, the full back. England's second try was more opportunistic, Claire Vyvyan intercepting an intended long pass. The lively Harding claimed England's third try, touching down after Jenny Chambers, the No8, had broken off the scrum.

The Scots never looked like scoring. They did, however, tackle with commitment in their midfield.England, the winners of pool B, will play Canada in a quarter-final at Galashiels tomorrow and Scotland will play Wales at Melrose.

United States, the defending champions, will play Ireland after an overwhelming 121-0 defeat of Japan. Amy Westerman scored five tries and three conversions in a spree of 13 tries and eight goals. France will play Japan in the other quarter-final.

SCOTLAND: M Cave (Saracens); L Burns (Aberdeen University), P Paterson (Richmond), K Littlejohn (Edinburgh Academicals), D Francis (Richmond); A McGrandles (Richmond), S Williamson (Edinburgh Academicals); D Lochhead (Dundee High School FP), M Ferguson (Edinburgh University), D Aitken (West of Scotland), I Wilson (Alton), L Cockburn (Edinburgh Academicals), M McHardy (Edinburgh Academicals), J Sheerin (Heriot-Watt University), D Barnett (Wasps).

ENGLAND: P George (Wasps); C Stennett (Wasps), C Vyvyan (Wasps), G Pragnelle (Wasps), V Blackett (Clifton); D Mills (Richmond), H Harding (Wasps); C Bronks (Richmond), S Dorrington (Richmond), E Scourfield (Leeds), K Jenn (Richmond), K Henderson (Novacastrians), H Stirrup (Wasps), G Shore (Wasps), J Chambers (Richmond).

Referee: J Fleming (Boroughmuir).

RESULTS: Pool A (at Melrose): United States 121 Japan 0. Pool B (at Boroughmuir): Scotland 0, England 26. Pool C (at West of Scotland): France 34 Ireland 0. Pool D (at Edinburgh Acads): Canada 28 Kazakhstan 0.

QUARTER-FINAL QUALIFIERS (tomorrow): United States, Japan, England, Scotland, France, Ireland, Wales, Canada.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"England beat Scotland to book place in last eight; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 16 Apr. 1994

Friday, 15 April 1994

World cup: England v Russia

Clement Freud

Let me begin by apologising for the failings in this article. I went to the rugby international between England and Russia sponsored by Alna Ltd, creative colour printers of East Lothian which England won 66-0 with a stunning display of fast, open football, and I took the most careful notes of who did what; also when.

My notebook makes mention of the sureness of touch of the scrum half; the intelligent reading of the game by our full back; the electric speed of both wingers, of whom the one on the right was powerful, the one on the left nimble and cunning.

I wrote a paragraph praising the valour and mobility of the English No5 in the lineouts, another concerning the strength and discipline of the scrum in which England got lower and pushed harder than their opponents. Our No8, I noted, would be voted ``most valuable player'' were such an award part of the British game.

There was no available match-card or team-sheet, but the press officer kindly gave me a glossy world championship official souvenir brochure containing complete details of every player representing 11 of the competing nations; I accepted this gratefully to use for the translation of numbers into names.

Alas, also alack: the numbers on the brochure bore no relationship to those on the backs of the players' shirts though the positions are chronicled.

As a consequence, I know not whether our efficient scrum half was Emma Mitchell 5ft 3in, 11 stone, 27-year-old sales manager who has 23 international caps or Helen Harding 5ft 5in, 9st 10lb, 22, service adviser with one representative appearance to date. The one I admired looked 5ft 4 in.

The brochure lists only one No8 and a single stand-off: all praise, then, to Gill Burns 5ft 11in, 131/2st, 29 and Deirdre Mills 5ft 4in, 9st 12lb who also kicked penalties and converted tries with rare panache and comprehensive understanding of the effect of the wind.

Paula George fits the statistics of the full back on view (Jane Mitchell, also shown to play in this position, is 5ft 4in and the one I saw was taller).

But there are four listed wingers: which ever of Jayne Molyneaux, Cheryl Stennett, Val Blackett or Annie Cole wore the numbers 11 and 14 shirts deserve the highest praise. They played great rugby. I particularly appreciated the pass from the right winger to the left one ten yards from the Russian line when both were well clear of the opposition.

All this happened at the sloping Boroughmuir Rugby Football Club ground in the south-west of Edinburgh in front of a crowd of 83, a number that includes managers of the teams, their trainers and the substitutes.

Our women wore the white strip of Carling's team; the Russians had white shorts over black knee-length cycling trousers and red shirts, though what they gained in sartorial elegance they lost on the field of play.

Their passing was flawed, they kicked when they should have run, their attempted Gari Ovans went upski without having anyone beneath to gather the ball.

Sadly, Russia is the one team not listed in the brochure, but some of them were called Olga, Natalya, Elena and Svetlana; I heard the coach call out their names.

As the Soviet Union, they played in the first World Cup, held in Cardiff three years ago. The editor of the official souvenir laments: ``Since that time, little has been heard or seen of them and unfortunately player profiles have not materialised.''

What is fascinating about women's rugby it is uplifting that nobody calls it ladies' rugby is the openness of the game. About 50 per cent of set-pieces result in the ball being passed along the threequarter line; the tackling is precise; the rucking hard, but sufficiently benign to enable defending players to fall on the ball without grievous consequence.

We needed a bigger crowd.

A second-year politics student from Strathclyde University shouted: ``Come on Russia'' three or four times.

When our No4 dived across the line to bring the score to 51-0 and Mills missed the conversion, one of the coaches called, ``Concentrate England''.

I also liked ``All the way next time, Emma'', a cry that I have often heard at Twickenham in the bar, after the match.

At 6.30 this evening, Scotland play England at Boroughmuir. If you live somewhere north of Watling Street and love rugby, you would be very foolish to go anywhere else.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Well played, whoever you were; Freud on Friday." Times [London, England] 15 Apr. 1994

Thursday, 14 April 1994

World cup: Kazakhstan v Wales

Alan Lorimer

KAZAKHSTAN arrived in Edinburgh for the women's rugby union world championship as an unknown force but will surely depart having gained new-found respect.

Yesterday, the former Soviet Republic gave an impressive display of running rugby against Wales at Raeburn Place and were ahead halfway through the first half before eventually going down 29-8.

Kitted out in an attractive blue-and-black strip and displaying clearly on their cycling shorts the logo of Holsten, their sponsor, Kazakhstan gave Wales a much harder game than expected, but Wales's streetwise knowledge of the game allowed them to dominate the second half. Moreover, the kicking of Amanda Bennett at stand-off half created a cushion for Wales that kept the opposition in arrears in the second half.

Bennett no relation to Phil Bennett, the former Wales stand-off kicked four penalty goals and one conversion and saw another of her conversion attempts rebound off an upright. She also displayed an eye for an opening, although the Wales backs failed to capitalise.

It was the Kazakhstan backs who showed the greater running skills particularly Alfiya Tamaeva, the full back, who kicked a first-half penalty, and Sofiya Kabanova, who scored a try in the first period after a break by Tamaeva.

Wales trailed 8-6 at half-time but took the lead early in the second half when Kate Eaves, the lock, powered her way over from a quickly taken penalty.

Bennett's third and fourth penalties took Wales well clear and, when Eaves scored her second try, again from close range, Kazakhstan's hopes were ended. In the final minute, Wales attempted a push-over try but the Kazakhstan pack collapsed at the scrum. A penalty try was awarded, which Bennett converted.

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Bennett inspires Wales; Women's Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 14 Apr. 1994

Wednesday, 13 April 1994

Gill Burns: profile

Sally Jones

To watch Gill Burns at the barre, a tall, striking figure with the poise only achieved by those who started ballet almost before they could walk, it is hard to believe this is the woman who could prove crucial to the England women's rugby union team's World Cup campaign over the next two weeks.

Burns, 29, an outstanding all-round athlete and a teacher of physical education at Culcheth High School, Warrington, plays No8 for the England side that reached the final of the inaugural World Cup in 1991 and is tipped to go one better in Edinburgh.

Ironically, Burns attributes much of her sporting prowess to her early grounding in ballet even though, at a whisker under 6ft and 131/2st, she is no longer the traditional shape for a ballerina. ``My mother runs dancing schools near Liverpool and I was there from the moment I arrived, in a cot or hanging in the corner in my baby bouncer while she took classes,'' she said. ``I took part in my first charity show as a babe in arms, being serenaded by a man singing `Thank Heaven For Little Girls'. I spent the whole number picking his nose and trying to poke his eyes out, so they should have known then what I'd end up doing!''

By the age of 11, she was already too tall to dance professionally but continued her training in ballet, tap and stage dancing and eventually qualified as a teacher. That discipline stood her in good stead in a variety of sports she represented British colleges in hockey, basketball and athletics, including sprints, heptathlon and all the field events but a light-hearted charity rugby game changed her life.

``It was incredibly exhilarating,'' Burns said. ``I love running with the ball in my hands and suddenly realised I'd found the ideal game for me. From then on, my feet hardly touched the ground. I joined the Liverpool Poly side and scored two tries in my first match, then was invited to a North trial four weeks later to give me experience.''

``I went along, scored again and, to my amazement, found myself in the squad. I'd played so much sport and also watched a lot of rugby so it seemed to come to me pretty easily. At the time, England was short of big, strong, fast natural athletes and, after going on the next national training camp, I was picked for the match against Sweden just a year from the day I started playing. We won 40-0 on my local ground, Waterloo, and I've played every match since then.''

Burns believes that ballet, despite its image of delicate fragility, proved the perfect foundation for rugby and, certainly, during the World Cup training camp at St Albans, the statuesque figure with a long flying plait soared effortlessly in the lineouts, hanging in the air above leaping team-mates to clutch the ball. Her balanced running and deceptive changes of pace and direction also marked her out as an outstanding all-rounder.

For Burns and the rest of the side, the high point of their careers was their aggressive victory against France at Cardiff Arms Park in the semi-final of the first World Cup. In the final, they lost to the United States 19-6 but, after beating the Americans convincingly during the Canada Cup in Toronto last year, the players are confident this will be their year.

All are bristling with fitness after a training schedule that includes around two hours of running, weights and circuit training a day, regular practice games, drills and work with a sports psychologist.

The toughest part of the build-up has been trying to raise the Pounds 1,000 each player needs for kit, travelling and accommodation to compete in the unsponsored World Cup, which Scotland took over in December after Holland, the original hosts, had to pull out after funding problems. Several of the England players are taking out bank loans in order to compete.

Steve Peters, a former student international, now coaches the side and is impressed by the skills and commitment on show. ``It's so refreshing to be working with top-class women after coaching blase men's and colts' sides,'' he said. ``They're so keen to learn. You need a different approach because some tend to take instructions as criticism and are slightly lacking in confidence.''

Burns identified another problem. ``We've also had to learn to be pretty tough about coping with teasing and prejudice,'' he said. ``You get used to these male chauvinist comments, like `It's terrible women playing rugby they'll bang their breasts and damage their child-bearing parts for life'.

``In fact, comparatively, we're just as strong as men as it's women playing against women and we're certainly capable of the same commitment and technical skills as men. When people say it's a men's sport, we say: `No it's not, it's a great game for everyone.'''

Copyright (C) The Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Burns holds centre stage for England; Women's Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 13 Apr. 1994

Sunday, 10 April 1994

World Cup: preview


A FLURRY of sleet spattered St Alban's rugby club as the scrum heaved and grunted. 'Power' commanded the flanker and the pack threw themselves into their freezing task with a will and an almost audible buzz of excitement. For most male sides the buffeting would have provided the perfect excuse to end the practice session. To the England women's team at their last training camp before the world championship which starts in Scotland tomorrow, this was just the latest in a string of challenges that would have sunk a less determined squad.

'Bad weather we can handle,' gasped one of the side's stalwarts, 35-year-old Sue Dorrington afterwards. 'What bugs us is the sheer frustration of lack of funding and sponsorship; the humiliation of top athletes like us having to sell raffle tickets in car parks and beg from our families to raise the pounds 1,000 each it'll cost us to compete in the World Cup.'

Women's rugby in Britain, once regarded as a lurid spectacle on a par with mud-wrestling, is expanding rapidly. From small beginnings in a handful of universities in the 1970s, there are now more than 250 clubs and around 10,000 women playing regularly.

The first women's World Cup at Cardiff in 1991 was won by the passionate, ultra-fit American side, who beat England 19-6 in the final at the Arms Park. Dorrington and her teammates are determined to exact revenge this time, whatever the personal and financial cost.

The Dutch were originally scheduled to host the event but pulled out in December after a string of rows and financial problems and the Scots gallantly, if rashly, offered to take it over at the last minute.

Whatever the venue, all the omens point to an England triumph. Last summer they beat Canada, Wales and the United States in Toronto to win the inaugural Canada Cup and the transformation in their technical standards within the space of a few years has been extraordinary, light years ahead of the unpolished play of their first international against France at Richmond in 1987.

The star then was the fly-half Karen Almond, a natural athlete who looked a class apart in her ball skills and tactical awareness. These days she operates within a well-drilled team including several other outstanding individuals like Emma Mitchell the scrum-half, the No. 8 Gill Burns and the explosive centre Jacquie Edwards.

Dorrington was the commercial director of the 1991 tournament and even re-mortgaged her house to help raise the pounds 30,000 needed to stage the event. 'It was a calculated risk,' she recalls. 'We knew it would probably lose money but it was history in the making and we couldn't see it fail for lack of funds.'

Dorrington, a hooker with the Wasps women's side, also introduced a new professionalism into the training, engaging her own fitness coach David Crottie four years ago and working out for around three hours a day as well as holding down a demanding job, until recently at Help the Aged but now with a corporate entertainment firm.

'My life revolves around the game,' she says. 'David puts me through a heavy programme, particularly in the build-up to the international season. It's my love for the game that keeps me going. I'm only five foot one and not a natural athlete but very strong and when I discovered rugby 12 years ago I knew I'd found a sport perfect for my size and body shape.

'We're combating ignorance the whole time and lots of men are amazed watching us play for the first time at the levels we reach. Whatever they think, we don't need their approval. We play this game for ourselves, because we love it, not to prove some feminist point.'

Jacquie Edwards agrees. The only black member of the England team and the star of the Blackheath women's side, she started playing rugby 10 years ago after an outstanding junior career in canoeing and basketball. 'I loved it from the moment I first stepped on to the pitch,' she recalls. 'At last here was a game where I wasn't restricted by a ban on physical contact where I could use skill, strength and speed all in the one sport. I started saving for a pair of boots. I'm the fifth of seven children and money's always been tight - patching our shoes with cardboard, that sort of thing - but it's never held me back from doing something I really wanted to do.'

Edwards, 25, an assessment officer who advises council tenants how to pay their rent and manage their benefits, could well do with some advice herself. She has raised just pounds 400 so far, including her life savings, towards the pounds 1,000 she needs to compete in the World Cup and is bitter about the indifference of potential sponsors towards the game.

'I train five times a week and spend thousands each year to play at international level but although I must have phoned every sporting manufacturer and women's clothing retailer, they all say women's rugby is not at all the sort of image they want to have their products associated with. It seems that if a women's sport isn't full of knife-thin girls in leotards or those sort of so-called 'feminine' stereotypes the sponsors just don't want to know.

'In fact we're as feminine in our way as any sportswomen. There's a lot of grace and real athleticism at the level we play and a growing following for top-class women's rugby. My boyfriend's Dad, who's pretty impartial, came up to me after we'd played a home club match and said: 'With your level of skill and knowledge of the game, if you could transplant that into a man's body, you could play for any men's team in the land.' That was quite a vote of confidence and it's buoyed me up during all the fund-raising and the desperate struggle to scrape enough pennies together to get to Edinburgh.'


Group matches: Pool A (Melrose): 11 April: United States v Sweden. 13: Sweden v Japan. 15: United States v Japan. Pool B (Boroughmuir): 11: England v Russia. 13: Scotland v Russia. 15: Scotland v England. Pool C (West of Scotland): 11: France v Spain. 13: Spain v Ireland. 15: France v Ireland. Pool D (Edinburgh Academicals): 11: Canada v Wales. 13: Wales v Kazakhstan. 15: Canada v Kazakhstan.

Quarter-finals: 17 April: A1 v C2 (Boroughmuir, 2pm); B1 v D2 (Gala, 2.0); C1 v A2 (Edinburgh Academicals, 4.0); D1 v B2 (Melrose, 4.0).

Semi-finals: 20 April: Winner Q1 v Winner Q4 (Gala, noon); Winner Q2 v Winner Q3 (Gala, 2.30).

Third place play-off: 24 April(Edinburgh Academicals, noon).

Final: 24 April(Edinburgh Academicals, 3.0).

Source Citation
"Women in Sport: Props of a new world order - Shoestring sisters united in the cause of crossing rugby's gain line." Observer [London, England] 10 Apr. 1994

World Cup: preview

Alasdair Reid

FOR all the honours the game has brought him the Lions tours, the Barbarians captaincy, the half century of caps Scott Hastings has still not set foot on what has become international rugby's biggest stage: a World Cup final.

And barring a Phoenix-like upturn in Scotland's fortunes in time for next year's tournament in South Africa, the only consolation he will have for this omission from an otherwise spangled CV, is that he went to school with someone who did.

Trick question? Can we now reveal that David Campese spent a secretive half-term at George Watson's College in the late 1970s, or that young Willie McCarling changed both name and nationality before heading off to Harlequins?

Neither, sadly, for Hastings's classmate - and, indeed, class captain was in fact Deborah Francis, who played for England against the USA in the women's World Cup final in 1991.

England lost that game in Cardiff, 19-6, but, according to Francis, they must be considered favourites for the second tournament, now christened the Women's Rugby World Championship, which kicks off at various venues around Scotland tomorrow: ``England have had a really good core of players for about eight years now. Their No8, scrum-half, and fly-half, can't really be competed with by anybody else in the world.''

Francis, however, will not be part of their side. After the 1991 competition, she took time out from the game to give birth to her son, Benjamin, and when she returned to international rugby it was with the Scottish side.

This, though, is no tale of another Anglo flying the saltire of convenience for the sake of a few more caps, for Francis, born in Bristol but raised in Edinburgh by Scottish parents, has always considered herself a Scot.

The nationality issue did not arise when she played her first international in 1986 for a Great Britain side. When that metamorphosed into an England side, Francis, who plays for Richmond, stuck with her friends and won the first of 12 English caps.

At that time, there was no Scottish side anyway, but when the prospect of Scotland playing internationals finally arose there was no question in her mind about which way to turn: ``I wanted to play for Scotland,'' she said. ``I wanted a blue shirt.''

In truth, she had also been frustrated by the actions of the English team management in 1991, when their failure to use their full squad in the early games saw 15 very tired players take the field against the USA, with the inevitable result. England had earlier come through a gruelling 13-0 semi-final win against France, when Francis scored a try, and she still carries the frustrations from the final.

``The England management put out their strongest team in every game. They had done it before, too, in the European Cup in 1988 and in both finals England were winning at half time. They didn't use the squad at all. It was so sad to watch.''

Francis is far happier with the Scottish management's way of doing things. She has been particularly impressed by the approach to selection taken by the manager, Ramsay Jones, and coach Roddie Stevenson, who recently travelled south to assess their Anglo players. By way of contrast, she points out that not one member of England's management was present when Richmond and Saracens, both including a number of English internationals, met in this year's WRFU Cup final.

Still, her assessment of the two countries' playing strengths put England, with their vastly greater experience, well in front. In Karen Almond, the fly-half who was a star of the 1991 tournament, they have a player who could have enormous influence again. Francis rates her highly.

``When she first started she was out in a class of her own. Not only is she a great athlete, but she also has a brilliant understanding of the game. The game has caught up on her a lot, but there hasn't been another fly half who has surpassed her.''

Scotland, though, may suffer for their inexperience: ``We've got a very good set of backs, certainly experienced from the centres outwards. The forwards are young, fit and enthusiastic and they can keep on running for ever, but they've not had the experience of tight play at international level.

``But the great thing is that in every game they play they learn so much; you can't believe the difference.

``I think where Scotland will struggle is that there aren't enough teams of a good enough standard. It was that way in England. It came on in huge leaps and bounds and then there was a stalemate for a couple of years.''

The first week of the championship will involve pool games. The 12 competing countries have been seeded in to four groups of three, the top seeds being USA, England, France, and Wales.

Scotland's place in the international order is measured by the fact that they are seeded third in the group which, ironically for Francis, is headed by England.

Scotland play England at Meggetland on Friday. On Wednesday, however, they meet Russia at the same venue and Francis is optimistic about their prospects: ``We're concentrating all our efforts on trying to win the Russia game,'' she said. ``We've heard nothing of them since the last tournament but I can't imagine that they've played a lot of internationals.''

The second week of the championship brings a round-robin Plate competition and knockout stages in the Shield competition and the championship itself, leading to the final at Raeburn Place on Sunday April 24. Given that the SWRU only volunteered as organisers three months ago, the efficiency is impressive to say the least.

Resourceful, too. The Scottish players will each pay over Pounds 400 for the privilege of representing their country over the next two weeks, while visiting players will have a range of accommodation that includes caravans and their hosts' living room floors.

Scott Hastings must be wondering where he went wrong.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Deborah shows true colours; Women's International Rugby." Sunday Times [London, England] 10 Apr. 1994

Sunday, 6 March 1994

Sponsorship of the world cup

Alasdair Reid

LOVELY stuff, money. Except, that is, when it comes into contact with rugby. Then you begin to wonder. Not about the under-the-table stuff, or even, in these enlightened times, the over-the-table stuff. If players of genuine talent can put together packages of decent houses, sponsored cars and ghosted columns, then good luck to them. Who cares? Nice work if you can get it.

But what you really have to wonder at is sponsorship, or rather the willingness of sponsors to lard their cash over areas of the game that are perfectly well larded already. Bankers, brewers and all those other hard-nosed movers and shakers of the business world seem perfectly myopic when new opportunities really arise.

At some time in the future, and the sooner the better, we will have a Scottish Cup competition. Sponsors are queuing up already. But long before then next month in fact we will have had an international rugby tournament, a world championship involving more than 400 players and officials from 12 countries, contested at various venues throughout Scotland. And where is the queue of tournament sponsors? Where indeed.

When you consider the scale of the operation, the television, the media interest and the unstinting, selfless efforts of the organisers it is an astonishing absence. Until you realise that it is the Women's World Championships that is about to take place. Girlies, by jove. Now that might explain something.

But sponsors or not, when the Scottish Women's Rugby Union announce the tournament's final format at a launch in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the occasion will represent a remarkable achievement for women's rugby in Scotland. Three years ago, the SWRU were not even represented when the first tournament was held in Wales. Three months ago they had no idea that they would be hosting the second. Holland should have been the venue, but an acrimonious fall-out between the Dutch organising committee and their IRB representative, confusion over the affiliation status of the Dutch women's union, shirt sponsorship regulations and just about everything else led to a flurry of faxes announcing the cancellation of the event. ``Dutch clubs are in a dreadful temper,'' read one. Sue Brodie, SWRU chairperson and international fullback, seized the opportunity.

``Everybody was shocked,'' said Sarah Floate, SWRU spokeswoman. ``But Sue started thinking `why don't we have it here?'. The SRU said they would support us logistically, but in fact we've done most of it ourselves.'' Not that there is any dispute between the two governing bodies. Indeed, separate development is seen as the best way forwards, associate membership of the SRU giving the SWRU both the freedom to develop as they see fit and a sufficient level of support. Full affiliation could constrain progress, as it has for the New Zealand women's union, who will not be able to compete in the tournament as it does not come under IRB rules.

Problems like these will be raised at a conference held during the tournament and moves will almost certainly be made to establish an international governing body for women's rugby. But the occasion will also celebrate the growth of the game in Scotland, where there are now 21 teams playing in a three-division league structure, with new clubs being established all the time.

Of course, they might also celebrate the wisdom and foresight of their sponsors. The cost? ``Totally negotiable,'' according to Brodie. ``The tournament will happen anyway, but it is a good opportunity to increase profile. You can put my phone number in if you like.''

Would we do that? Of course we would: 031-661 1179.

Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1994

Source Citation
"Wanted: sponsor with a little imagination; Rugby." Sunday Times [London, England] 6 Mar. 1994

Wednesday, 12 January 1994

Scotland take on the world cup

David Hands, Rugby Correspondent

WHILE Rugby World Cup (RWC) organisers expect to announce today additional sponsors for the 1995 tournament after the most recent meeting of directors in the Isle of Man, they may note a change in location of the women's world cup, proposed for April, and hope that the same does not apply to the men next year.

The 1995 World Cup in South Africa, a venue that carries obvious hazards, has already been backed by South African Airways and though RWC is chary about issuing figures, it must be assumed that each of the proposed eight important sponsorships is worth a minimum of Pounds 1 million. Such a sum would be a godsend to the women's competition, which was planned for Holland between April 10 and 24, but which will now be staged in Scotland.

A meeting of the Scottish Women's Rugby Union (SWRU) competition organising committee in Edinburgh tomorrow will confirm the logistics of the tournament after the Dutch withdrawal last week, apparently provoked by the possibility that some of the world's leading teams might not attend because the tournament was not run under the auspices of the International Rugby Football Board.

Nor was the first tournament in 1991, played in Wales and won by the United States, but though it was not financially successful it created interest in the women's game. Entries must be submitted by February 1.

Source Citation
"Women's rugby seeks sponsors; Women's Rugby." Times [London, England] 12 Jan. 1994