Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Equality in sport: the Scottish Rugby Mystery

Equality of opportunity. Nice idea. Apparently there are all sorts of laws and stuff that should ensure that everyone gets treated equally regardless of... well, the usual list. There is even new legislation proposed this very week to tackle the subject.

Shame it never seems to apply in sport.

The latest example of this is not an English issue but its pretty close (ie. Scotland) and it seems to be such a blatant example of discrimination in sport that anyone should get annoyed. That for some reason this isn't the case - and the authorities seem to be able to get away (or, perhaps more accurately, see nothing wrong).

What am I on about? Well, the current tale goes back to the mysterious, sudden, and still largely unexplained withdrawl of the Scottish team from the recent FIRA European Sevens competition. A supporter of Scottish women's rugby started asking a few legitimate questions about it (no-one else was). Initially these dealt with things like "why", but given the rather... unsatisfying (?)... response he did a bit of research and then asked a few more. Things like...

  • If Scotland withdrew to save money, why was it left so late?
  • It it true that an the offer of the players to pay for their own travel and accommodation was turned down?
  • How much has been spent on the men's trip to Argentina (relevant as the SRU sent a full management team and big squad)? It really can't cost that much to send a sevens squad and a few extras to France for a weekend.
That was over two weeks ago and for some strange reason its all gone very silent. You can follow the continuing story on the FIRA discussion database - just look for the contributions of "andorrafanclub" from around 10th June onwards - because for some odd reason the press don't seem to have picked up on it. Maybe SRU or SWRU will reply at some point. Maybe its all a misunderstanding. Maybe.

What gets me - what really gets me - is the simple fact that in any other walk of life an organisation that even appeared to be spending large sums of money to support an activity for men while at the same time withdrawing smaller sums from a comparable (even a more important) women's activity would be taken to the cleaners - hounded in the press, and quite possibly the courts. But because this is sport its different. Why?

And to make it worse this is all accepted, most readily by those most affected. There is no reason for that. No-one should ever accept second class status in sport (or anything else) - not because they are "professionals" and you are a amatuers, not because they play in front of thousends and you play in front of dozens, not because they are in the papers and you are not, and certainly not because they are male and you are female.

But all of these excuses are used all the time. In Scotland, in England (as seen with the responses to "In Touch" survey), in the USA with their long battles over "Title IX", in South Africa where the excuse for the lack of support is that women are not professionals, in the media where any or all of the above reasons are given for ignoring the women's game. And because of that no-one asks questions.

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