- RFUW integrates with the RFU
- Women’s and girls’ game flourishing in England
Photo: Getty Images
Today (July 2) marks a significant day for Rugby in England with the completion of the integration of the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) with the Rugby Football Union (RFU).
The RFUW has existed as a separate body governing the women’s game since 1994 and levels of participation are strong, with over 13,000 women and girls currently registered as playing each week, across 533 clubs. Work has been underway for some time to put the structures in place to make this possible and huge opportunities exist for growth in this area of the game, with numbers already up 87% since 2004.
RFU Chief Executive Officer Ian Ritchie said: “We are very much looking forward to combining knowledge and resources and to welcoming new colleagues from the RFUW. This is a progressive move to make the Union even more inclusive going forwards, with our ultimate aim to broaden the reach of the game to the widest possible audience. Joining forces with the RFUW will allow us to do that.”
The RFUW’s Acting Managing Director, Nicola Ponsford, has seen many changes over the years. A former England international herself, who played in England’s first ever international match against Wales in 1987, she became the RFUW’s first paid employee in October 1998.
Ponsford said: “Of the many positive changes I’ve seen over the years, integration is certainly a high point. It is a recognition of the hard work and commitment of the organisation’s staff and volunteers, the vision for the game set early on and the commitment shown to overcome all the challenges.
Photo: RFU Atchive
“We have had other highs along the way. Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2010 was a massive success, with the tournament being recognised as the most successful Women’s Rugby World Cup ever, the achievements of the England Women’s representative squads over the years and the general recognition of their accomplishments.
“Most recently we saw first-hand integration working at its best with the RFUW and the RFU working together to put on a record-breaking Marriott London Sevens weekend in May at Twickenham Stadium. Additionally, the integration of women’s teams into the Rugby Club community, and the successful implementation of the Under 13 programme, introduced in 2011, underlines how successful and popular women’s and girls’ rugby is at all levels.
“While the actual date of integration is something to celebrate, work towards it has been going on for some time. Development targets and the funding submissions for the Whole Sport Plan are already integrated. Much has been already been achieved through the work of the development team and the number of girls playing rugby for the first is increasing all the time.
“Integration is a huge step towards of seeing more and more women and girls playing and enjoying rugby.”