Rugby reflecting diversity in society
- Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
I was heartened to read that ex-England wing Ugo Monye has been made chair of a new independent diversity and inclusion advisory group which will ‘shape plans’ and ‘challenge the RFU on its progress’ in the area.
It was also good to see England World Cup winner and current Wasps Ladies director of rugby Giselle Mather appointed vice-chair of the group, which the RFU hopes will help the sport "reflect the diversity in society".
The RFU said the "priority areas for action" are currently "ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and age".
"It's important that we get this right so that anyone, from anywhere, feels rugby is a game for them," Monye said.
I couldn’t agree more.
Although some progress has been made, there are still too many players in the men’s professional game from privileged upbringings and too few from different ethnic backgrounds.
Because I went to a state school I didn't get a look in when it came to trials for my county or country because we simply weren't on the coaches’ and scouts’ radars.
My break only came when I started to attend a rugby-focussed college which had a strong track record.
And even then, there were fellow students who were fitter and more talented than me but because of their backgrounds and socio-economic situations were unable to make the necessary progression.
We weren’t rich but we had a car so I could be driven to training; my parents were able to find the time at weekends to take me to matches and stand on the sidelines and we could afford boots and kit.
It is these subtleties that need addressing along with the bigger, more obvious challenges if we are to really change the game for good.
On a brighter note, it was great to see Stuart Hogg run in a fantastic try from his own long-range kick against Wasps. It was in the 77th minute and the Chiefs were 36-13 up when he charged more than 30 metres to embarrass the opposition defence.
It showed why he has fitted in so well at Exeter. Giving an extra one percent in everything you do and winning battles that need grit and determination over talent are part of the club’s ethos.
Hoggy encapsulated that in a few glorious seconds.