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...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is this the first photo of a women's rugby team?

Could this be the first ever photograph of a women's rugby team?

It was sent to me back in October, having first appeared on a women's history website from South Wales called "Quiet Women's Row". Apparently the glass negatives turned up during some council redevelopment work in the 1970s, but with little information. All that is known is that the picture was probably taken in Newport.

However, the date added to the picture is almost certainly wrong - the dress of spectators seems to indicate something from the mid 1910s, some time during the First World War maybe. And if that is so we may be able to have a good guess about what the game was, because in 1916 the earliest recorded women's rugby match in Britain took place, between teams of women from Newport and Cardiff, to raise money for the war - and fascinatingly reports from the game say that the women wore caps or head protection of some sort... which is what the women above seem to be wearing.

Whether that picture was from that game, 95 years ago, we'll probably never know now - any more than we can know which team it is, or who the women were. But it is an important piece of women's rugby history, and women's sport history as well.

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