AFTER nine years and two World Cup wins, women's rugby in England has finally merited the ultimate accolade entry into the RFU's hallowed Rose Room at Twickenham. At an honours ceremony marked by a conspicuous lack of support from their male counterparts, who declined invitations to attend, the 67 women who have gleaned such consistent glory for the Great Britain and England sides since 1987 were officially capped.
The dinner celebrated the start of what promises to be yet another glorious season for the England side that notched up a 40-0 victory over the Nomads, the women's equivalent of the Barbarians, in a friendly at Rosslyn Park.
``It really is a historic day for the women's game,'' said England captain and most capped player, Gill Burns. ``The England side really showed their world-class form and recognition at the dinner makes all the time and effort everyone has put in worthwhile.
``In the past, it was all done for pats on the back, mostly from the rest of the side. Now I feel the game is really getting somewhere and fast.''
With the launch of their Home Nations tournament this season and the Five Nations championship next year, there are only two ghosts left for the RFUW the women's version of the RFU to banish. Its record for the lowest crowd at an international match and its image within the male sector of the game. Hundreds, rather than thousands, turned out to watch England's total dominance over the rest of the world and, although the quality of play was high enough to draw burly Rosslyn Park players pitchside from the bar, it was to comments of, ``Dodgy women playing a men's game,'' and ``It is not the sport you play, it is the quality of the way you play it.''
Women's rugby may be several centuries behind the men's game but surely the talent of the England side, unbeaten since 1991, can no longer be in any doubt.
Copyright (C) The Sunday Times, 1995
"Pulling down another barrier; Women's Rugby." Sunday Times [London, England] 3 Sept. 1995: