Women's rugby suffering disproportionately

Kate Zackary of Exeter Chiefs Women is tackled by Claudia MacDonald of Wasps Women during the Women'

Kate Zackary of Exeter Chiefs Women is tackled by Claudia MacDonald of Wasps Women during the Women's Allianz Premier 15s match between Exeter Chiefs Women and Wasps Women at Sandy Park on 28 Nov 2020. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK. - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

There has been much gnashing of teeth lately about how the Covid pandemic has affected the men’s game, but scant attention to the plight of women’s rugby. 
Exeter Chiefs announced they were adding a women’s arm to the club in September 2019 and they were accepted into the Premier 15s when we were still under lockdown restrictions. 
However, this positive news has been lost amidst the cacophony of noise around the on-off men’s Premiership season and the uncertainty around some of the international games. 
There are some truly outstanding players in the women’s game and what concerns me is that, while they remain in the shadows, we are potentially missing an opportunity to inspire the stars of the future. 
I was motivated to become a player by the role models I looked up to and whose achievements I wanted to emulate. 
I still remember to this day watching Scott Gibbs bulldoze Os Du Randt in 1997 and thinking ‘Wow. I wish that was me.’ 
Unless there is more visibility of the women’s game, it won’t progress at the pace it deserves to. 
We have a great group of girls and women who love playing rugby at Sidmouth but I’d always like to see more.  
On another note, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the highlights of my professional career and, with the Six Nations looming, I was taken back to the Exeter Chiefs first European cup game in France at Bourgogne. 
We arrived at the ground and had a look round but were perplexed by the cage-like structure over the tunnel out to the pitch from the changing rooms. 
However, after we won the game, we realised it was there for our protection as we left the field with the crowd baying for our blood! 
There was also a run-in with the local police after a late-night kitchen raid by one of the players at the hotel we were staying in. 
But, what goes on tour stays on tour, as they say… No names, no pack drill. 
PS: If anyone knows how Brett Sturgess is fairing these days, do drop me a line! 

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