Rugby World Cup: RFU defends decision to fly England Women in economy

England Women's Rugby

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has defended its decision to fly England’s women to the World Cup in New Zealand via economy class. 

England’s men travelled in business class with British Airways to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, but the women’s team have not been afforded the same luxury. 

The Red Roses are the favourites to win the World Cup and are currently on a record win streak of 25 matches. 

Yet, the RFU have stressed the women’s side is loss-making and that the organisation is limited in what it can invest in. 

Why won’t England fly business class? 

Back in 2018, British Airways was announced as the Official Airline Partner to England Rugby, with the company to fly the “men’s and women’s squads to tournaments around the world.” 

A statement at the time read: “The partnership will see British Airways fly the England Men’s and Women’s teams to matches all around the world, including to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021.”

However, this was before New Zealand were named as hosts of the women’s tournament. 

Currently, British Airways do not fly directly to the country, hence why the RFU has decided to use an “alternative carrier.” 

They also stressed that the company was “proud of the progress” it had made and that the team management decided to invest in “additional physios, performance coaches, a nutritionist and a full-time psychologist… rather than flying in business”.

England’s players have allegedly been asked not to post about their flight, because the airline is not an official partner of England Rugby. 

Red Roses playing against Wales

Will other countries fly business class? 

Similarly, Welsh Rugby Union performance director Nigel Walker says Wales Women will not fly business class either, but that he looking to address inequalities. 

​​”In Rugby World Cups you get a contribution from the governing body, we have used that contribution and booked flights accordingly,” he said. 

“If you wanted to look for inequalities between the men’s and women’s game, you wouldn’t have to look too far.

“We are trying to close that gap and we recognise that we have got a way to go, but the Welsh Rugby Union is committed to this women’s programme. But this highlights one of the inequalities that exist.”

Wales Rugby Union

Can England win the World Cup? 

Five years ago, England finished as runners-up at the World Cup and will be keen to go one better this time around. 

New Zealand are the defending champions and will have home advantage on their side, yet Simon Middleton’s side thrashed the Black Ferns 56-15 last November. 

The tournament, which has been rescheduled from last year, starts on October 8th, as New Zealand face Australia.

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