Rugby Union

England women push for rugby to go professional

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England's women accomplished great things in the summer of 2014 by lifting the Rugby World Cup in Paris, but now after this triumph they believe their sport has the right to turn professional.

This was the third time that England lifted the trophy since it was established in 1991 having made it to seven of the eight World Cup finals.

Gary Street's team hammered Canada 21-9 after defeating the likes of Ireland and Samoa on route to the final, and now the question of making women's rugby professional is a key talking point.

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In a recent interview vice-captain Sarah Hunter claimed that if their sport doesn't make the leap forward then they will be left behind, and may never reach the pinnacle of a World Cup final again.

"If other nations turn professional and move forward we might get left behind," she said.

"For now, it's all about making sure the players have the support in place to make their lives easier and add value."

Making the Leap

Hunter is one of the many players who plays part-time as she works as a RFU rugby development officer, while patriotic England captain Katy McLean is a primary school teacher.

It questions the equality and ethics of sport if women who go on to create history for their country aren't rewarded, as it seems they should just carry on doing their other jobs instead of focusing on the sport they love.

McLean also spoke of the matter, highlighting that England have a great following after their success and this should be a key factor in taking things forward.

"There's a huge marketing profile now for the game's authorities to work with. I'm sure the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are already busy talking about it.

"The number of interviews we've done since the World Cup final where we've been asked questions about professionalism just adds fuel to the debate."


One of the main problems however with making the women's game professional is the money invested into the sport, with there not being a great deal of interest unless there is a televised international tournament.

There will still be fans who would turn up and show their support, but it wouldn't be a packed stadium resulting in not enough money being pushed into the club.

But this would be a huge step forward for equality and the sport as a whole; not restricting women to play the sport in their spare time.

The case of April Miller, who was banned from men's rugby in New Zealand, should be taken into account as well.

If an 18-year-old girl was able to play in the men's game without drawing in any attention then what would be the problem of making women turn professional, as they are prepared to handle the vigourous trials of the sport.

Money will always be a factor though, especially in a sport like rugby, but if this proposal is accepted then the image of the sport would build, making a difference in rugby and offering everyone a chance to follow their dreams.

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