Women in Sport – Rugby’s True Stars of 2014

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As a 90s child I grew up in the era of “girl power”, the Spice Girls were to me what One Direction are to today’s girls (minus the Twitter stalking). I even had the dance moves to Stop perfected to the final stomp. Now I know what you’re thinking- Talya this is a rugby blog, why on earth are you telling us about your love of 90s pop. Well as a twenty something who has most definitely grown out of the 90s pop phase, in a world where celebrities such as Rhianna and the Kardashian’s are seen as “role models”, I want to put a new group of female role models forward to you- the England Women’s rugby team.

On Sunday evening the England Women’s rugby team won the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year award. For the first time.

This achievement is made even more special by the piece of history they made that night, after all, the only other all female team to ever win this award was a women’s 4x 400m relay team in 1969. It makes you realise that these women are putting girl power back on the map. Especially considering the audience are used to seeing the Senior Men’s team stand on the stage to collect the award (5 times) or even the British and Irish Lions team (4 times).

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This isn’t the first time the girls have stepped forward as positive role models, if you looked up the word determination, ambition or hard work I’m sure you would see a photo of them in the dictionary. After all they won the world cup this summer following three consecutive Rugby World Cup final defeats to New Zealand. They also did this whilst upholding full time careers. Yes, that’s right, the squad consisted of a Vet, Plumber, Life Guard and several Teachers. These ladies were fitting in training on weekends and before and after work. I remember being on an RFU shoot with some of the ladies and them spending a whole day completing the filming with us, to then have to rush off to fit in a training session and then shoot back to work. Not forgetting quite a lot of the squad play for both the England Women’s fifteen and sevens teams. Their dedication to the sport has really helped to develop the game and show that the women’s game is just as exciting as the men’s

Post- World Cup they also made another piece of history when England Rugby announced that they would be awarding 20 of the ladies with professional rugby 7s playing contracts. In the lead up to the World Cup the players were described as, “professional in almost every way, apart from the fact they don’t get paid,” by head coach Gary Street. So it is fantastic news that they’re being rewarded for all of their hard work.

2014 really has been the year for the England Women’s squad so I look forward to seeing what they have up their sleeve for 2015. With the Rio Olympics less than two years away the now full time squad will be a force to be reckoned with on the International stage. It is amazing to see what hard work, determination and ambition can be transformed into. After all could you honestly say that a group of part- time sports women could be world champions? Next time you go to promote the latest celebrity why not tell your daughter, sister, niece about the amazing work this group of ladies did. I will definitely be encouraging my sisters to switch on when they play Italy, Scotland and France at home this season in the Six Nations Championship.

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