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