Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Matches like this between South Africa and Australia at the Rugby World Cup Sevens could be transferred to the Olympic stage.
Matches like this between South Africa and Australia at the Rugby World Cup Sevens could be transferred to the Olympic stage.

On a level playing field

After years consigned to the news-in-brief columns of sports pages, women's rugby is finally making headlines in its own right.

DUBAI // After years consigned to the news-in-brief columns of sports pages, women's rugby is finally making headlines in its own right and could be heading to the 2016 Olympics alongside the men. Thanks to Dubai's World Cup Sevens, when Australia became the first women to lift the World Cup, the female game is experiencing new levels of exposure.

The question now is whether it will continue to do so or just fade away now that a point has been proved. Including the girls in a previously male-dominated form of the game was a bold move by the IRB; it was also a necessary part of the IRB's burning ambition to have rugby sevens ratified to the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made their position clear when the IRB initially campaigned for men-only sevens to be included on the 2012 Olympic bill: no women, no bid.

Following the resounding success of the event - 30,000 people were at the stadium to watch the final of a competition contested by 16 countries whittled down from 83 initial hopefuls - it seems the IRB has struck gold. Cynics might claim women's sevens was only included as part of the campaign to make the abridged form of the game an Olympic sport - the last four world cups did not include the women - but Susan Carty, new IRB women's development manager, refutes the suggestion.

"The decision to bring the women in line with the men was made before the 2012 Olympic campaign," she said. "But the timing of development has to be right. In order for a World Cup to be successful you must protect its credibility. "If we had done this at the last World Cup Sevens fewer countries would be playing the women's game and at a lower standard. There's no denying the Olympic campaign has given us a huge boost but I don't think that's cynical. Women's rugby can now use this impetus and progress even further.

"The strides that women's rugby has taken since being run alongside the men's game are incredible," she added. "There is an acceptance that women have a lot to offer the sport." @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Floyd Mayweather lands punches on trainer Nate Jones on Tuesday at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification bout with Marcos Maidana. Ethan Miller / Getty Images / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Floyd Mayweather trains for Maidana fight

Images from earlier in the week as Floyd Mayweather trained at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas ahead of his May 3 championship unification fight with Marcos Maidana.

 UAE rugby player Daniel Minks pushes against a Singapore tackler during Wednesday night’s Asian Five Nations Test. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

UAE national rugby team needs to look within to raise standards

While domestic clubs like Jebel Ali Dragons and Abu Dhabi Harlequins find regional success, the UAE national side isn't benefitting from the talent pool in the country, writes Paul Radley.

 Ravindra Jadeja of Chennai Super Kings playing a shot in their Indian Premier League win over Rajasthan Royals at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. Jadeja scored 36 runs not out from 33 balls. Pawan Singh / The National / April 23, 2014

In pictures: Chennai Super Kings notch win behind do-everything Jadeja

Images from Wednesday night's Indian Premier League match in Dubai, where Ravindra Jadeja led Chennai Super Kings over Rajasthan Royals.

 Suresh Raina has scored 84 runs in three IPL matches so far this season for Chennai Super Kings. Ravindranatah K / The National

Suresh Raina has always been brightest in Chennai yellow

An enigmatic presence in India's line-up, writes Osman Samiuddin, Suresh Raina is at his freest, his easiest and his best with the IPL's Chennai Super Kings.

 Azzam crew member Luke Parkinson works on the new 65-foot carbon racing yacht during preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race. Courtesy Ian Roman / ADOR

A little calm after the storm for Azzam crew

Azzam skipper Ian Walker writes another monthly update ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race as his crew enjoy a 10-day break after some rough conditions following their delivery from the UK to Portugal.

 Singapore have nearly half the side in home-grown players and prefer not to be reliant on expatriates. Sarah Dea / The National / April 23, 2014

Asian Five Nations: Singapore ideal model for impatient UAE’s rugby federation

The UAE Rugby Federation are keen for their national team to have such heavy Emirati representation. They have a good template to follow.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National