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'If you haven't seen women's rugby and you don't actually know about it, that is annoying'

By Liam Heagney
Saracens' Zoe Harrison scores a try during the Tyrells Premier 15s final against Harlequins in April 27 (Photo by Matthew Lewis - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Full-time England player Zoe Harrison has called on people to watch women’s rugby before they form a negative opinion of the game.

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The out-half started three of her country’s 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam matches and in the new RugbyPass documentary, Going Pro, the fast-rising 21-year-old appealed for the sport to be given a fairer chance to thrive.

“It has got to a point now where if you have seen women’s rugby you will talk really highly about it,” she said in the half-hour, fly-on-the-wall feature on Saracens, the double Tyrrells Premier 15s champions.

If you haven’t seen women’s rugby and you don’t actually know about it – ‘Oh, do women actually play rugby?’ – that is annoying for us.

“They haven’t actually seen it and they are judging it just because they think it is a male sport. As soon as they have seen it their opinion changes massively because they see our skill level and they are actually, ‘Wait, you have a different approach to how we play but not like a massive step down from the men’.”

Sarah McKenna, Harrison’s 30-year-old England and Saracens colleague, added: “I was an at airport once and one of our girls was sat next to a guy on the plane who said that he didn’t think that women should be playing rugby – and we were on our way home from an international tournament.”

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Saracens coach Alex Austerberry believes the profile of the women’s XVs has been thriving since the 2014 World Cup which was won by England in France.

“Particularly with the success of the 2014 World Cup we saw that people were more aware, that it was actually a game played by everyone,” he said.

“Bit by bit, the media exposure and the success on and off the field has just meant that it is front and centre in a lot of rugby clubs and the media as well.

“Ultimately, it’s a skill-based game. We don’t want the biggest and the strongest. We want players that can be creative, that can find different solutions, but ultimately the biggest thing that we look for is the right person.

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“There are some wonderful athletes, role models and high-quality rugby players. Forget if they are male or female, they are just quality rugby players who are as committed as anyone else I have come across in rugby.”

WATCH: The RugbyPass Going Pro documentary on Saracens Women premieres Sunday evening at 6pm UK time

 

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