SA plans to include two women's teams in new URC tournament
SPOTLIGHT: SA Rugby president Mark Alexander revealed plans to include two South African teams in a new women’s United Rugby Champions (URC) tournament that’s set to be a game-changer.
Alexander was speaking at the announcement of a new sponsorship for the South African women’s rugby team.
Alexander was adamant that the time for talking about supporting women’s sport was over and that fans and sponsors needed to start showing active support for women.
The Springbok Women’s team will play in the curtain raiser before the Springbok and All Black Test at Ellis Park on Saturday (kick-off is at 13:00) and they will sport their new jerseys when they face Spain.
“Instead of making grandeur statements, we’d rather do a proper business plan. The start is the talk about two women’s teams in the URC and grow from there.
“We say women are important, we’ve said a lot about women’s sport … women are the architects of our society but do little about supporting them from a financial point of view and a moral point of view,” Alexander said at FNB’s reveal.
“People don’t really come out and support them in person. All of us need to change our mindset and support the women’s game.
“The funding is skewed from corporates. In order for us to have a strong professional league, we need to build a business case and we need funders to put money into the system.
“We need a strong schools and university system, like the men’s rugby, to feed the elite development continuum.”
Many of the Springbok Women’s stars still juggle careers and have other hurdles to overcome to represent the national team.
South Africa will feature at the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in October in New Zealand, for the first time since 2014, where they performed poorly.
SA Rugby decided to suspend all international women’s rugby for four years while reviewing its systems and puting better resources in place to grow the sport.
“That four-year Test hiatus is bearing fruit and there are plans afoot to include two South African teams in a new women’s United Rugby Champions (URC) tournament that’s set to be a game-changer.
“We were running ahead of the game but certain pillars were not in place. We had to put proper pillars in place to support the game.
“We took the step to not focus on internationals but try to fix what we have here first before participating internationally.
“There’s definitely an improvement. You can actually see the quality of rugby the girls are playing.
“I must commend (SA Rugby high-performance manager for women’s rugby) Lynn Cantwell, who put the right systems in place when she came. Men have always tried to develop the women’s game but it’s unique and there are different needs.”
The Springbok Women – who recorded comfortable victories in their Rugby Africa Women’s Cup matches in Cape Town in June – returned to South Africa last week from a two-Test tour to Japan, where they recorded their first victory on foreign soil in a shared series (1-1).