Women’s rugby in this country has progressed rapidly over the last few years and Rugby Australia should be commended for going on the front foot in ensuring our elite women’s players have ample opportunity to shine at domestic and international level.
We are current Olympic champions on the back of a professional programme implemented by current sevens coach Tim Walsh.
Remarkably, we’ve also qualified for every World Cup in the fifteen-a-side game since 2006 on a shoestring budget.
Thankfully we’re not in Europe, as a more difficult route to qualify would have ensued.
If we wind back the clock to a little over a decade ago - 2003 to be exact, things were even less rosy, as the funding to the women’s high performance unit was cut by the ARU and women’s rugby went under the community rugby umbrella.
This set women’s rugby back, with no Wallaroo team gracing the international stage from 2003 to 2005 after a competitive fifth place finish at the 2002 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Fortunately women’s rugby didn’t totally wither on the vine, as many volunteers picked up the slack of running grassroots competitions, with the strongest being the Sydney and Hunter competitions.
The ARU, to their credit, ran an invitational national championships and invited all state and territories to compete for the national title and with no Queensland competition for several years, it was often Sydney and NSW Country facing off in the national final.
During this time, our world class footballers played with little recognition, while other countries such as our Pacific neighbours New Zealand, along with the United States, Canada went from strength to strength and with many test matches being played among those countries at the time.
The Six Nations competition went from strength to strength with those countries’ players receiving plenty of press and if an Aussie player had a second passport and a parent or grandparent originally from one of those countries, no one would have begrudged an Australian player seeking fame and fortune elsewhere.