Welcome to the top women’s rugby news for Mar 15-21! We’re starting with the announcement from World Rugby of a new global women’s competition kicking off in 2023. The WXV competition will have sixteen teams in three tiers playing a minimum of six tests throughout the year. This is hugely important as some teams play one or two tests annually while others are playing more than twelve.
On the heels of this announcement came an article from Spain’s head coach who didn’t hold back on alleging that World Rugby & Ireland conveniently schemed to push their Rugby World Cup Qualifying match. Sure it’s a pandemic but if Ireland can play in the Six Nations…why can’t they do a qualifying match? What’s the deal there?
In domestic competitions, the Saracens and Harlequins have punched their ticket to the Allianz Premier 15s semi-finals and Spain’s Iberdrola has three of four teams set in their playoffs.
We close out the week with a few pieces in our “Other News” category as well as 11 player features and 3 media.
Featured Women’s Rugby News
A hugely exciting announcement came this week, World Rugby is launching a new global women’s competition in 2023. Lots of pretty packaging but it all boils down to the top 16 teams in the world will be playing more matches. This is so important as most teams are playing one to two matches annually while others are playing ten to twelve. Match parity is a huge step for the women’s game.
But there was a stirring article this week where Spain’s head coach was interviewed about why their Rugby World Cup Qualifier match was postponed. He alleges that World Rugby and Ireland purposely moved that match since Ireland hasn’t been playing. But if Ireland can compete in the Six Nations…why aren’t they ready to play a qualifier? Seems fishy.
Weekly Women’s Rugby News
- Rugby Europe has cancelled the 2021 XV Trophy Series
- Julie Paterson has been appointed as the Director of Rugby for Six Nations Rugby
- Hong Kong is confident they will “shine” in their second Rugby World Cup
- Saracens and Harlequins have clinched their spots in the semi-finals of Allianz Premier 15s
- Cisneros, Majadahonda and U. Sevilla have clinched their spots in the Iberdrola playoffs, one league match remains
- Mwamba and Ruckit Queens are on top in the second leg of the Kenya Rugby Union Women’s Festival
- Rugby Europe will hold their 7s competition in June-July
- USA’s Ashlee Byrge joins the Utah Warriors MLR team as a broadcaster and an assistant coach of the high school Academy team
- Planet 7s featured Iran women’s rugby and how it has exponentially grown
- Ghana’s Rafatu Inusah has been appointed to the Women’s Advisory Committee of Rugby Africa
- Rugby Scribbles continues to expose indigeneity in rugby
- WRCRA profiles the founders of women’s rugby in the USA
Women’s Rugby Player Features
- Bristol’s Simi Pam is featured in BBC Sport’s “five elite sport women and their non-sporting careers”
- Scotlands’s Director of Rugby Development Sheila Begbie has announced she will retire this summer
- England’s Jodie Rose Ounsley is featured by The Rugby Journal
- Bristol’s Stef Evans shares with Talking Rugby Union how she fell back in love with rugby and turning #ICare awareness into action
- Ireland’s Anna Caplice has joined forces with Tackle Your Feelings to encourage people to #BeKind on social media
- Goff Rugby has added Ellie Karvoski to their All-American List
- Harlequins’ Hannah Dennis tells the Boston Standard how dreams are coming true for her
- Australia’s Lucy Lockhart has found her niche in rugby union
- Canada’s Keyara Wardley is featured by Rugby Canada and is encouraging young Black athletes to follow their dreams
- Samoa’s Bella Milo plays for Hong Kong and is determined to help them return to the Rugby World Cup
- Ireland’s Sophie Spence tells Rugby World what it means to be coaching at an elite level
Women’s Rugby Media/Podcasts/Videos
- Fill your Boots has Bree Hill, Matthew Barraclough, Millie Rice & Rachel Evans on to chat about returning to rugby post-lockdown
- Philippine Rugby Unstoppable XV Angela Hifume shares to us her rugby journey and how it empowered her as a youth female leader in her community
- Women’s Rugby Pod talks through all the week’s news with Johnnie Hammond and Rachael Burford
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World Rugby has launched WXV, a three-tiered annual competition model that will start in 2023. After the glitzy launch we were all scratching our heads around what it really meant. We agree with Scrum Queens that it all boils down to getting the top 16 teams more matches.
With most teams only playing on average 2-4 tests a year, this format would mean the top 16 play at minimum 6! This would be a huge improvement!
The other big news this week was an article in the El Confidencial who interviewed Spain’s women’s coach José Antonio Barrio. He doesn’t mince any words that he believes World Rugby and Ireland schemed to move their RWC qualifying match. It seems a compelling argument as Spain is in good form coming off the European Championship while Ireland hasn’t played in months…
European XVs Trophy and Conference cancelled for 2021, but "2021 Sevens season will run as scheduled in June-July for all divisions, both for Senior and Age Grade tournaments". Nothing about European XVs championship, leaving door open for a tournament in the autumn? https://t.co/koojJdMPK0— Scrumqueens - Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) March 18, 2021
Rugby Europe has announced the cancellation of the 2021 XV Trophy Series (men and women) while the 2021 7s season will run as scheduled in June-July.
Julie Paterson will leave the Welsh Rugby Union in June, following 32 years of service, to start a new role as Director of Rugby at Six Nations Rugby.
In her new role, Paterson will be entrusted with shaping the Championship’s rugby strategy, helping the competing nations share knowledge, best practice, and enter conversations with stakeholders as a collective.
Hong Kong’s Royce Chan Leong-sze has recently retired and now switched over to coaching. She is confident “that [Hong Kong], led by instrumental head coach Jo Hull, will shine once the Asian qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Japan are rescheduled.”
Another thrilling round for Allianze Premier 15s this week as Wasps upset Loughborough 36-14, Sale took the Sharks derby home over Durham 31-3, Saracens fought back in the second half to defeat Exeter 34-21, the Harlequins breezed past Bristol 62-7 and Gloucester scored at the death to beat Worcester 28-24.
Saracens and Harlequins have clinched their spot in the semi-finals while Loughborough, Wasps and Exeter will continue to battle out the remaining two spots.
Mwamba Emerge Champions In The Second Leg of the KRU Women’s Festival https://t.co/YPt1BoPjQ3— Kenya Rugby (@OfficialKRU) March 15, 2021
Mwamba Ladies were victorious in Tier 1 and Ruckit Queens was the same in Tier 2 in the second leg of the Kenya Rugby Union Women’s Festival. One rounds remains in this competition.
League play concluded in Iberdrola and the playoffs have one match before they are set. Cisneros, Majadahonda and U. Sevilla will play in the top 4 and therefore the Play Offs for the title, while Olímpico, Sanse Scrum and Les Abelles will fight for permanence.
The Utah Warriors would like to welcome former USA Women's National Team Member Ashlee Byrge to the Warriors' broadcast team. Growing up in Herriman, UT & playing for the first girl's Herriman HS rugby team, Ashlee went on to serve in the military and to represent (1 of 3) pic.twitter.com/3ys2M0eLDt— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) March 6, 2021
Utah has welcomed former USA Eagle Ashlee Byrge to their broadcast team and as an assistant coach of the high school academy team. She will be doing sideline reporting as well as color commentary for the team’s matches.
Planet 7s features Iran 7s and how it has grown over the years. Once Iran was declared a full World Rugby member, their numbers grew by 20% including over 7,000 female players.
Rafatu Inusah, a Board member of Ghana Rugby Football Union, has been appointed onto the Women’s Advisory Committee of Rugby Africa.
“In the case of Rafatu Inusah, she started from a humble beginning, from a player, got injured along the line, to learning to be a trainer and now educator, the only educator in West Africa”
‘In Ghana Rugby, she is responsible for a large part of getting into the Rugby programmes which is how we start developing children from a young age. In Greater Accra, through Volta, Eastern and other parts of the country. Over the last year’s, together with other members as a leader.
“She has come out greatly from those practical aspects of what she does by Rugby Africa and us very proud of that, we congratulate her.
Rugby Scribbles dives deep into indigeneity in rugby or the appropriates of Indigenous culture. They call out several clubs and sponsors for their racist culture.
WRCRA has another fabulous article about the founders of women’s rugby in the USA. They show us how Colorado Boulder and Colorado State University started the women’s rugby movement over the Labor Day weekend in 1971.
FYB The Hard Line LIVE - Joining host Lucy Ware on the topic of returning to Rugby post-lockdown are Bree Hill, Matthew Barraclough, Millie Rice & Rachel Evans. Get involved by getting your comments & questions into the chat! https://t.co/nafQhFkP5B— Fill Your Boots - Rugby (@fyb_rugby) March 16, 2021