As the England’s Woman’s Rugby team goes from strength to strength with the game becoming professional in 2019. It is so important that schools ride this wave of success.

Increased ticket sales, viewing numbers and now Tik Tok as a marketing partner it feels like Women’s Rugby is here to stay and more importantly making itself more appealing to young girls.  It’s come a long way over the last decade, but we must not rest on our laurels. 

Andy Stokes who is 60 years old from Whaley Bridge and his daughter Elisha (32 years old) now living in Leeds and a new mother herself, have experienced how Women’s Rugby has developed over the last decade first hand.

Andy had played rugby throughout his life and therefore Elisha had grown up watching rugby live and on TV. In Year 8 she was given the opportunity at school to play, and her & her friends loved it!

When she asked to do it as her GCSE sport area it wasn’t available to her as a girl, but with the support of her Dad she appealed and was allowed to play with the boys. 

“It took lots of forceful arguments – her school said she couldn’t play with the boys due to health & safety reasons but eventually we got there!” said Andy – he also went onto say “at the time there were no local clubs near us that could accommodate the standard of play for Elisha and her friends, so there was a lot of long drives and dedication from both of us!”

Due to the amount of time Andy was spending in the rugby arena he decided to qualify as a coach, when asked who he preferred coaching boys or girls “Girls! Their egos don’t get in the way.” He also went onto bring up an interesting point “It’s also so inclusive – it doesn’t matter on height or your body type, your social demographic background there is a place for everyone.”

Young girls are in need of these new found role models like Jess Breach and Abby Dow for example, but they need to have the forum to model them. Girls rugby in schools needs to be firmly on the curriculum along with matches and local clubs to support them on their journey.

Elisha sums up it beautifully “In my experience woman’s rugby teams play for each other..girls play like a family”.