I’ve been somewhat stuck lately with many things (a pandemic will do that to you) any my relationship with rugby is one of them.
Among the odd blips of happiness and excitement that only rugby union can bring, I’ve found myself in the most part really struggling for consistent enthusiasm over the last two seasons and I have been asking myself; why? Why does a sport that I tell myself I love, that I spend a lot of money on, not make me really happy anymore?
And so I thought I’d revisit the past, and in doing so I re-read one of my own articles from this very site, written way back when in 2014 when all I did have to worry about was rugby, and I’ll point you in its direction here .
When I wrote ‘Falling out of love with rugby’ it had come from a place where I was so sincerely demoralised and angry by the actions of the WRU that it was nearly overcoming all of the joy I found in the sport.
And I’ve realised that the only reason that isn’t the case now is because I have deliberately not engaged with what the WRU are doing, or rather not doing. And reader, I have now taken the time to look into it and boy do I wish I had not.
A lot of it is exactly the same problems as in 2014. A lack of structure in the community game, a chronic lack of investment in particularly the women’s game, and poor treatment of the professional teams in terms of financial support. The less said about how the WRU have dealt with the pandemic the better, for my anger levels at least.
To those of you who perhaps don’t follow Welsh rugby, I would ask you to consider just how demoralising it is to have a Union, that is supposed to care, strengthen and support the game, be the very thing that undermines it. The saddest thing of all is that this isn’t even new. These problems are old, embedded in an amateur set up of an institution that seems hell bent on not professionalising.
And yes okay, they’ve built a hotel. A very small part of me would consider that a good idea, a way to generate money without saturating the calendar with international matches as a cash cow but….they’ve organised an international match outside of the international window. Again. Which will negatively impact all of the professional teams in their domestic league. Again.
I don’t want to dwell too much on how the WRU treats the professional teams as it is simply history repeating itself. What I’d rather focus on here, and what has really been brought into sharp focus, is how appallingly women’s rugby is being treated by the WRU.
We have one of the best 7s players in the world in Jaz Joyce and yet she finds herself in the position of not being able to play on the circuit as the WRU don’t have a team for her to play in. With the folding of the women’s Swansea RFC team just a short time ago, it is clear that the club game is struggling also.
On the 13th September, the BBC reported here that 123 former Welsh internationals have launched a petition to improve the state of the women’s game in Wales. As they state so succinctly, Enough is Enough. The women’s pathway has been obliterated by the WRU and this is a complete failure by the Union to safeguard the game.
The link for the petition is here and I would urge everyone to sign it.
All levels of the women’s game in Wales deserves better.
The WRU, with its hotel vanity project, needs to have a dramatic turnaround in its conduct because as it stands it is decimating the sport in this country. It isn’t good enough.