We can no longer excuse female rugby players wearing male outfits

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What the players wear is important. Rugby equipment, from boots to shirts, is not unisex. Any player who’s played locally in oversized men’s gear will tell you it’s not fun, so why do we always see this problem at the elite level of the game?

Women should wear a kit specially designed for their job, you wouldn’t send a female firefighter into a fire with 3 sizes of protective gear too big, so why are we doing this in the field?

Over Christmas, the Harlequins and Adidas were criticized on social media for using a unisex kit in Big Game 13, a double header that saw both the men’s and women’s teams run out at Twickenham. The kit, which was supposed to be designed for both teams, saw the women’s team wear themselves out in oversized and ill-fitting shirts. The players even took to Twitter after the game to joke about playing in their “khaki dresses”.

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Often times with women’s sportswear the “shrink it and pink it” way of thinking is applied to the design and development of the kit. However, as Exeter’s Jess Thomas explains below, the size difference between props alone in the Premier 15 shows why it doesn’t fit. Women need a kit specially designed for them that takes into consideration not only the differences between men and women, but also the differences between women.

To those who say the wrong mounting kit should be overlooked, I would say the kit is not just a superficial item, it conjures up a lot more to both gamers and audiences alike. It’s not about clothing, it’s bigger than that, it’s about fundamental respect for the players and the game in general.

Big Game 13 was a watershed moment for many players, players who would have raced at Twickenham for the first time live on BT Sport in front of a large crowd. We shouldn’t be talking about the kit, but it’s a basic basic which unfortunately in this circumstance has obviously been forgotten.

This subsequent conversation does not detract from the quality of the game presented by both teams that day, but it is an issue that we need to recognize, discuss and eventually learn.

When contacted for comment, Harlequins said RugbyPass: “The Harlequins are happy to have seen the men’s and women’s teams play in the official Big Game 13 jersey at Twickenham Stadium. The current jersey is made in one cut, for both men’s and women’s teams by Adidas. The club are happy to confirm that from next season Harlequins Women will have a fitted outfit for women.

I spoke exclusively to Sue Anstiss MBE, author and women’s sports activist.

“The oversized kit took us back to a time when the women’s team played in men’s jerseys, and it just wasn’t a good advertisement for the sport for those who were logging in for the first time,” said Anstiss. RugbyPass. “What I love about rugby is the variety of strong, powerful women you see, which gets lost when you put them under one big jersey – it’s neither comfortable nor flattering. Some of them even rolled up their sleeves, which doesn’t look good and proves the kit wasn’t technically adequate for women.

“I wanted to be so positive about everything in Big Game 13, but then you see things like that and it’s hard to be.”

These problems also extend well beyond the time spent on the pitch and the wear and tear of supporters. England Rugby returned their women’s jersey to fans and came under scrutiny for not offering the jersey in a men’s fit. It works both ways, as research has shown that men make up a significant portion of female sports fans, so the products on offer must address that. As the sport grows and interest grows, we must ensure that the products created reflect the growing development of the fan base.

It appears that this problem is not specific to women’s rugby and has indeed made its way into women’s football, with one common theme: Adidas.

Arsenal’s Beth Mead took to Twitter to criticize the clothing company for the lack of a women’s fit kit, the Tweet was later deleted but sparked discussion among players and fans about the quality of the kit for women. Specifically, the players explained how the FA Cup final jackets were only available in men’s sizes, which then made them look like a sack of potatoes.

Despite all of Adidas’ failures, they are not the only supplier of kits for women’s rugby. Ruggette RFC, founded by Premier 15 player Stef Evans, specializes in women’s specific rugby outfits. The company is known for their well-fitting shorts, featuring a thick, flat waistband and specially designed variable leg openings that provide full coverage for players while looking great.

As a first step, the brand designed a women-focused kit that could be worn by both men and women for the Bournemouth Sevens festival last summer. Olympian and Wasp player Abi Burton led the “Bryan’s Lions” team and the kit add-ons continued to flow. This begs the question, if a company can do this and do it so well that their orders skyrocket the next day, why couldn’t the same be done for Big Game 13?

Participation in women’s rugby is already small enough that we don’t need another factor to limit this participation.

Barriers in sport have never been higher, which is why I urge every team, from the grassroots to the top, to speak and communicate with their players to ensure that the kit they are supposed to be in. exhausting themselves is suited to their purpose. Gone are the days of wearing men’s clothing, so why do we still accept it in 2022.

Times have changed and the management of women’s football must keep pace.

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