The Women’s Six Nations Championship starts in April, with England looking to win the title for the third straight year.
The England women’s rugby team has enjoyed great success throughout the last few years, and is currently ranked the best team in the world, by World Rugby.
Despite this, women’s rugby matches are very rarely shown on terrestrial television, unlike their male equivalents.
Amy Montague, who is a PhD student and lecturer at Kingston University, says that more needs to be done to continue the growth of the women’s game.
She said: “The women work very hard and have achieved so much and continue to do so. But there still is a massive lack of awareness and general support for women’s rugby.
“I can agree it is improving, for example, most Premier 15 games are now live-streamed online every weekend. This is a good starting point for getting the game out into the public eye, but we still have a very long way to go. It would be great if anyone who reads this could stream a women’s game this weekend.”
Lack of coverage isn’t the only thing that has prevented women’s rugby from growing, particularly at the grassroots level.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all non-elite sport has been suspended since December.
Montague plays for Richmond Women’s Rugby Club. She says that the inforced suspension of sport has been difficult to deal with.
She said: “It has been tough. For me personally, my motivation was high when the pandemic first occurred last year with the first lockdown, which meant I continued to train and prepare for what we thought was going to be a short break.
“However, as time passed and things worsened, and with continuing changes in restrictions, it has become difficult to keep spirits high. It has been a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, and we look forward to better times when we can safely train and play together again.”
The recent government announcement about a gradual easing of restrictions means that sports teams are preparing for a potential return to normality. Montage says that Richmond is hoping to restart training soon.
She said: “Richmond has announced via their social media channels that we hope to be returning to training from the 29th of March following government recent announcements. There will be government and RFU guidelines to follow for the safety of players and the club, so there will be some restrictions on training, but to be back training with the team in any capacity would be fantastic.”
During the lockdown period, sportspeople across England have been consigned to training from home. Montague described how arrangements had to be altered to adapt to the circumstances.
She said: “I’m training as much as I can, and as much as I have felt motivated to. I have a small home setup that I have put together over the last year which has allowed me to be able to carry out some very basic strength training and conditioning sessions.
“I have also incorporated interval running sessions into my weekly training schedule for the last year in the hope my body does not struggle too much once we get back out on the field.”