Rugby Australia Will Launch Five-Team Women's Competition In March
Rugby union is the "latest code to embrace the women's sport revolution," announcing on Wednesday it will launch a five-team Super W competition to kick off in March, according to James Buckley of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Queensland, NSW, ACT, Victoria and Western Australia will all be represented in the 15-a-side, six-week league, with a final to be played in April. Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry said, "I am really proud and excited about this competition launching next year and what this means for the game in Australia. ... It's going to be great to see women's state teams slug it out against each other and will open a lot of girls' eyes up to the opportunities for them in rugby." The announcement of a Super W competition follows "hot on the heels" of the National Rugby League's unveiling of plans to launch a six-team women's competition in '18 (SMH, 12/13). In Sydney, Fiona Bollen reported the league will be completely funded by Rugby Australia and will feature doubleheaders with Super Rugby throughout the season, culminating in the top two sides playing off in a final. Outgoing RA CEO Bill Pulver announced the "landmark" competition, which, alongside the Uni 7s, "completes the pathway for women's rugby in Australia." Pulver said, "For a young girl picking up a rugby ball for the first time next season, she will now have a clear and accessible pathway to represent her country through the Buildcorp Wallaroos and Qantas Australian women's sevens team" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/13). The ABC reported the new tournament "already has detractors angry" because it will not be paying its players. Louise Evans, a board director at Women Sport Australia, said that female athletes "can get a better deal at competing codes" like the Australian Football League. Evans: "Rugby Australia has gone to all the trouble of coming up with a fantastic 15-a-side competition that is going to give Australian women a career path and access into the international level, but they've said they're going to cover their costs but they're not going to pay the women a wage. I think that's a deal breaker." While there is no pay for the athletes on offer, RA said that there is a "significant increase in investment in female players," with all costs of the tournament covered and players getting access to professional facilities (ABC, 12/13).