Women’s Rugby continues to rise in profile and popularity but now there is a new team adding to the spectacle. Barbarian FC have launched a new Women’s side that will compete against Munster in a historic match at Thomund Park on the 10th November. The invitational club has been an iconic part of Men’s rugby for 127 years, founded in 1890, and had now branched out into another area of the game. Barbarian’s Chairman John Spencer stated, “We are delighted to open a new chapter in the Barbarian FC’s history.” The squad will be coached by Giselle Mather, the Wasps Ladies Director of Rugby and World Cup Winner in 1994. Mather said that “The Barbarians are one of the reasons I fell in love with rugby and to be coaching the side is a massive honour.”
The Barbarians will field players from seven different nations including;
Susie Brown (Scotland), Fiona Coghlan (Ireland), Claire Cripps and Megan Goddard (England), Elen Evans (Wales), Emma Jenson (New Zealand), Christelle Le Duff (France) and Kelly Russell (Canada), with these players having 440 international caps between them. The launch of this Barbarians squad is supported by the Women’s Sport Trust, marking a clear and distinct development across Women’s Sport. Sport Trust Joint CEO Jo Bostock stated, “Women’s rugby has made great strides in 2017 in terms of high-quality competition, investment and infrastructure.”, “It is a further indication of the progress of women’s sport as a whole.”
The impact this new squad, under a prestigious club like Barbarian FC, will have not only on Women’s Rugby but on Women’s sport in general will be massive. With the RFU dropping their XV’s contracts after the most recent World Cup and there being little chance for other nations of gaining professional contracts, Barbarian FC are lending their support to the ever- growing Women’s game and demonstrating that it is a fast growing, competitive sport, qualifying the levels of support it is receiving in the current climate.
Aside from Women’s rugby, the fact that an institution so recognisable and respected has decided to create a Women’s team demonstrates to the world of sport that there is a market for competitive women’s sport. Over the last few years, there has been a notable increase in the levels of coverage women’s sport has been receiving, however, this is in no means equal to the levels of coverage gained by male athletes of the same disciplines. There is still an overriding level of sexism surrounding women’s sport, particularly in areas that are deemed more masculine like rugby and football, something that needs to change. Barbarian FC are a respected and internationally recognisable club and have been, until this moment, a specifically male club, however, even they have made the step of including a women’s side. This will go some way to breaking down barriers in the public eye surrounding women who play rugby.