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Celebrating female progression in rugby

by - 07/03/2023 in Community Twitter logo icon link Facebook logo icon link LinkedIn logo icon link
Jen from wolverhampton ladies rugby charter savings bank

As part of the International Women’s Day celebrations, we caught up with Jennifer McIntosh, captain of the women’s team at Wolverhampton Rugby Club, who’re sponsored by Charter Savings Bank.

With a focus on honouring the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, we explored what her experience of rugby has been as a female player and how successful she thinks the England women’s team, the Red Roses, might be at the Six Nations.

Q: Can you tell us how and when you became interested in rugby?

A: I first became interested in rugby when I was at university. I went to watch a few Scotland international games and the interest grew from there.

Q: Why did you join Wolverhampton rugby team in particular, and what is it you enjoy most about playing for the team?

A: I went to a few training sessions and everyone there was so friendly that I stuck with it and I’ve been playing here ever since. I started playing rugby eight years ago, and now it’s evolved to be more welcoming to women, the equality between the teams has improved. I think it’s more important than perhaps it used to be, to have that community element coming out of the pandemic. Folk were not used to socialising, and to have a local sports club that they can go down to and get some exercise, see some friends - I think it’s just a great atmosphere to have on your doorstep.

Q: Do you think people have any stereotypes about women playing rugby, and do you think it’s important to challenge these stereotypes?

There are absolutely stereotypes to being a female rugby player. I think the first question a lot of women get is ‘oh, are you gay then?’ and those stereotypes have to be broken. This game is for everyone, that’s what makes it so great. It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, what your size is, where you come from, if you enjoy playing rugby then you’re welcome.

Q: Do you feel respected as a rugby player?

Rugby is a very respectful game. The fundamental morals of the sport are TREDS, which stands for teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship. Everyone’s welcome, it’s a family sport.

Q: In a sport dominated by men, what’ve been the main challenges you’ve faced as a female player?

As female players, we’ve absolutely played second fiddle, more so going back about five years. It’s been a struggle sometimes just to get the kit to play in, to get the interest from the clubs and to be taken seriously.

Q: Have you seen any progress for women in rugby?

Things are definitely improving and there have been good steps towards more equality in the club. A large part of that is down to the Red Roses and their success. There are now more women and girls playing rugby than ever before. Clubs are getting rewarded for investing in their women’s teams. And, seeing the Red Roses get to the final of a world cup - it’s fantastic. They’re breaking records every time they play now, so it’s a great time to be involved in the sport.

Q: Is there anything you think could help bring an end to discrimination, bias, or lack of inclusion for female players?

We have to keep doing what we’re doing - we have to play. The professional game is doing incredibly well at the moment, so the press coverage is improving, the investment is improving, it’s a slow process but I think those things will all help. The bottom line is, we need people to get down to their local rugby club and support the game, I think that’s key to breaking those biases.

Q: What do you think female players bring to the game that sets them apart from male players?

Perhaps a bit more of a family atmosphere. If you’ve gone to a Red Roses game in the last couple of years you’ll have experienced the family atmosphere at those games. There are kids of all ages there, adults of all ages there, and it’s the same at your local rugby club. We play on a Sunday after the mini and junior games, so quite a few of the kids hang around. It’s a very friendly atmosphere and makes for a far more enjoyable day.

wolverhampton ladies rugby charter savings bank

Q: Do you think the Red Roses have a chance of winning the Six Nations?

After the success of winning the world cup last year, I think the Red Roses are in with a very good chance of winning the Six Nations.

Q: Who’s your favourite England women’s player, and why?

I think Ellie Killdunne and Abby Dow are very exciting players to watch.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a reason to celebrate women, their achievements and to think about all the hard work that women do around the world. Whether they’re a celebrity, a sportsperson or someone that you know in the local community, give them a shout out and say thanks.

Q: Looking back on your career, what advice would you give to women starting out in rugby?

To any women considering playing rugby, I would say just do it. Turn up and give it a go, whether you do it for fun, exercise or to satisfy a competitive drive in you, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll meet people that you’d never have met normally, make friends and learn a fantastic sport.

Q: What’s your greatest sporting achievement to date?

It has to be my one and only try, which I scored when I was slightly hungover. We were playing Cannock, who have a lot of my friends on their team, so it was definitely my greatest achievement.

Q: And finally, what would be your choice of intro song walking out on to the pitch?

I’m going to have to go with something Scottish, so I’ll go with The Proclaimers, 500 miles!

To raise the profile of the women’s game, we need to talk about it more, so we hope you’ve enjoyed our insights into Jennifer’s experience of being a female rugby player. Rugby is a competitive sport but players can also find a supportive atmosphere, a sense of community and friendship.

We’re proud to sponsor the women’s team at Wolverhampton Rugby Club and wish the Red Roses well at the Six Nations.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Your eligible deposits held by a UK establishment of Charter Savings Bank are protected up to a total of £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, the UK’s deposit protection scheme. Any deposits you hold above the limit are unlikely to be covered. Please click here for further information or visit www.fscs.org.uk.