Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Why Every School Should Have a Girls' Rugby Team

by Edith Critchley

My rugby icon is truly extraordinary. They are the most capped England player of all time, with 115 caps as of November 2016. They have played for England in the 2010 World Cup and the 2014 World Cup also. When the England forwards used my club as a training base late last year, this player lifted our under-20s prop on their own shoulders. Furthermore, of course, they were awarded an MBE for services to rugby. This world cup winner is called Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Clark.

She is currently playing with the England women's squad in the six nations as loose head prop, and if you have been following them you will be aware of their amazing results, winning 63-0 against Wales. The current world champion squad, England women won the World Cup in 2014. They are record breakers too: the only team to have never conceded a try in a six nations tournament, as well as being a dominant side in almost every 15s tournament in the last 10 years.

So why, despite all this women's rugby success, do girls not get the option to play it at school?

Rugby is an extremely diverse sport, with Rocky Clarke saying ‘It's a game for all shapes and sizes’ which is different to most sports played by girls in schools, which require mostly speed and agility. Even though these qualities are needed for some positions in rugby as well, there are also positions that need strength, teamwork and endurance. So they are appropriate for people who feel like they can't get involved in sport because they're not fast enough or can't throw far enough. Rugby can be their perfect sport.

Especially now, with heart disease connected to obesity on the rise, we need to facilitate sports for everyone, so that people continue sports and a healthy lifestyle after they leave school and are no longer forced to play sports they do not enjoy. Rugby also helps with body positivity, as, when you join a rugby team, you are praised for strength, for being fierce, fast or (my personal favourite) a ‘beast’ - this is especially important for teenage girls who feel increasingly pressured to change their body by the media.

Teamwork is one of the key elements of rugby; without it your squad is pretty much incapable of creating a strong defensive and attacking line. This strong team spirit present in the game is opposite to the usual competitive nature of school - making it perfect for games lessons. It's not like no one wants to play either. After speaking to girls at school there were enough who would choose it over netball or hockey, for at least a 7s team (and that's just out of the ones I talked to). This strange gender restrictions for sport that hangs around still runs though most sports. Lacrosse is one example, a sport played mostly by girls in the UK even though in the US it's played by men; it's the same with netball: why can't boys chose to join a netball team?

I play second row for Basingstoke under-15s club, There's nothing to match coming off the pitch covered in mud with my friends and teammates. I plan to try out for county next year, and I never want to stop playing. Some of the players at my club play for their school weekly - making me wonder why can't we have a girls rugby team too?

Update: It has been confirmed that, as of next term, there will be a PGS after-school girls' rugby activity every week. More details to follow!


  1. Edith, what a lovely piece you have written. As squad Manager for Girls Rugby at Basingstoke RFC I am (of course!) a little bias but I am delighted that PGS are starting some girls rugby after school. We are on a mission to make Girls Rugby a viable PE choice in all schools, as we have seen over the last 5 years that girls bring something absolutely different to this sport that we love, they play pure, flowing rugby where they target the spaces, not the obstacles...arguably, "pure" rugby, the way it was intended to be played, a game of evasion and invasion....I am so glad to hear you say you enjoy it, Edith. Long may that continue!

  2. This is such an inspiring note.


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