THE Women's Rugby World Cup is taking place in Barcelona and I want to make it perfectly clear that none of our team looks like Fran Cotton in drag.
That point has to be made because sportswomen are very sensitive about stereotyping and are desperate to be taken seriously.
My own record in this is not very good. A few years ago there was a TV programme about the Harlequins women's rugby team, which showed their AGM in a private room at London's Sports Cafe.
One of the girls went out to get the beers in, came back with a couple of foaming tankards and complained that some chauvinist pig had commented: "Nice jugs."
It is time to admit that comment came from a group of sports journalists on a night out and that I was among that group.
I apologise unreservedly, because they were very ordinary jugs and because women's rugby, like women's football or women's anything, is a serious sport.
OK. But we are not allowed to give it serious scrutiny or expose the unspoken truth that it is not very good.
The goalkeeping at this season's women's FA Cup Final was atrocious, for instance, but we were not supposed to notice and certainly not supposed to comment.
Next week I shall help out at a schools' football tournament involving girls' teams. Their matches will be very competitive and great fun.
But the girls are not as strong or fast as the boys, and the physical differences become more marked as kids grow up.
So while women certainly may be able to bend it like Beckham, they'll never be able to run like Owen or tackle like Campbell.
The Mirror (London, England) (May 16, 2002): p63