WOMEN'S rugby is enjoying a boom after small beginnings in 1983, when the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was formed with a hand ful of teams. The first in ternational was staged at Richmond in 1987, when a few doz en spectators watched a well-drilled France defeat Great Britain, which boasted sev eral outstanding individ uals but little cohesion as a team. Car diff hosted the first women's World Cup in 1988, which despite being run on a shoe string, attracted 12 countries.
Standards have im proved dramatically, thanks in part to the increased number of in ternational matches.
There are regular home internationals, and England took on Ireland at Worcester yester day.
Some 10,000 women now play and compete regularly at 330 clubs all over Brit ain. Although in the early days women's rug by was predominant ly a college and university sport, with few players taking up the game before their teens, growing numbers of schools offer touch rugby for girls as young as eight and intro duce the full-scale game to teenagers. Most universities field several women's sides. The top eight senior sides, in cluding Saracens, who field a high propor tion of the England team, and Old Leamingtonians, compete in a national Premier League.
There are two other nat ional leagues just be low them, as well as four regional leagues for less experienced players learn their craft.
RFUW also organises National Senior, Stu dent and Junior Cup competitions.
Most clubs wel come newcomers regard less of size, background or athletic prowess - coaching and fitness training are provided and, unlike most sports, rugby ac commodates all phys ical types because of the various skills re quired in different posit ions. For more details contact the RFUW on 01635 42333.
Copyright (C) The Times, 1998
"Ways and means; Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 6 Apr. 1998