Stranded and Unpaid: Women’s Rugby Faces Ongoing Disrespect

This past week has highlighted ongoing issues in women’s rugby, revealing a troubling pattern of neglect and disrespect toward these dedicated athletes.

Fijiana 7s: Sleeping on the Floor After Victory

In a shocking incident, the Fijiana 7s team was forced to sleep outside Sydney Airport while en route to the Dubai 7s. Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) interim Chair Peter Mazey admitted the mishap resulted from miscommunication and poor planning. The World Rugby HSBC Tournament team, responsible for travel arrangements, was unaware of the airport’s nightly closure, leaving the team without accommodation.

The incident wasn’t admitted until photos came to light, embarrassing both the FRU and World Rugby. While the FRU has apologized, this oversight would never have been allowed for the men’s team. Winning shouldn’t be the measuring stick for how teams are treated; all teams deserve adequate support and respect.

Kenya Lionesses: Winning on the Field, Struggling Off It

The Kenyan Lionesses, despite their performances in the Africa Cup and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, are facing severe financial struggles. For seven months, these athletes have gone unpaid, with some struggling to meet basic needs like rent and bills. Despite repeated efforts, the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) has failed to resolve the issue, leaving players frustrated and disheartened. Former captain Sinaida Aura publicly criticized the KRU, pointing out the persistent issue of unpaid allowances and the lack of support and vision within the federation. It’s time for the KRU to prioritize the welfare of these dedicated athletes and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Oceania Championships: Disorganized and Disappointing

The Oceania Championships faced their own disruptions. The anticipated match between Samoa and Papua New Guinea was canceled due to unforeseen travel issues, specifically related to flight arrival times, preventing the Papua New Guinea team from arriving on time for the match. How does a union simply not understand flight times? While it might seem like a minor detail, teams should have managers who handle logistics and receive proper support from their unions and tournament organizers to avoid such issues.

Time for Change

These incidents highlight a systemic issue within rugby unions worldwide. It’s not just an administrative failure; it’s a failure to take women’s rugby seriously. Women’s teams, despite their talent and dedication, are often treated as an afterthought. This lack of respect and support is unacceptable.

This week should be a wake-up call. We need to demand better for these athletes. They deserve fair compensation, proper organization, and the respect they’ve earned through their hard work and impressive performances. Rugby unions must prioritize women’s rugby, ensuring that these teams receive the same level of support and resources as their male counterparts. The future of women’s rugby depends on it. It’s time to make real changes and take women’s rugby seriously.

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