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Monday, March 03, 2008

Women's rugby.... in 1928!

I recently came across this.

Its buried away a bit on a rugby history blog. Apparently women's rugby - or at least a version of rugby - was quite popular in northern France in the 20s.

You do wonder what happened to the game - it was a significant spectator sport, it seems - enough to warrant large posters advertising games on the sides of buildings (see left).

There again women's football in England was also a very popular spectator sport at this time, so much so that the FA banned it! Maybe women's rugby in France suffered in a similar way?

The blog suggests that the game filmed may be a version of rugby that the French called "barette", which theoretically did not allow full tackling but only "blocking" - it has been compared to touch rugby - but if that is so then going by this video it seems quite vigorous blocking. In fact, looking at the rules for barette, I think the blog is wrong and what is in the video is actually proper rugby, all be it not 15-a-side (nothing changes, then!).


  1. Anonymous12:12 AM

    you would of fort after 80 yrs that girls rugby would be more bigger than would it is
    and there be more teams
    and it be like boys/mans teams


  2. Anonymous6:42 PM

    Hi John,

    I am back from holidays and finding your post.

    A rugby historian, actually teaching history of sports in Lille, recently explained me that French grils where playing a 10-a-side rugby in the 1920s, without tackling though allowing vigourous blocking as you said !

    Lille girls happended to be once French Champion, he said, but I never managed to find any information online about it...


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