Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World
NZ NZ
Back

Increasing visibility: 'No Woman No Try' Tour Kicks Off

By Charlie Willett
Shaunagh Brown of England signs autographs after the Women's International rugby match between England Red Roses and United States at Sandy Park on September 03, 2022 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

More News More News

No Woman No Try premiered on Amazon Prime in March 2022. The documentary follows three female rugby players through the 2020/21 season, exploring gender inequality through the lens of the women and men championing change across the rugby community – and now it’s going on tour.

ADVERTISEMENT

Director Victoria Rush says that No Woman No Try was ‘always about the grassroots clubs having support to create change in the future. We’ve achieved incredible success launching the film with Amazon and opening discussions with premiership clubs but for real change in the community I want to make sure we reach the other 90% of the game – amateur teams. The tour takes the core conversations from No Woman No Try directly to the clubs, players and hopefully decision makers to inspire a brighter future for women in rugby.’

The popularity of the tour came as a surprise to Rush, who tells RugbyPass she expected to find 20 clubs who might be interested in hosting and instead came away with expressions of interest from more than 400 clubs which she had to whittle down to the final locations.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Rush continues ‘it was incredible to see how the film impacted people and shows just how important these conversations are. By speaking to people directly at grassroots level about problems that they face we can have a huge impact on change. Sharing advice from other clubs is a huge necessity to learn from others who have done right and wrong at their clubs. Coming together as a community, especially after Covid, is how we make sure everyone not only survives but thrives!’

The filmmaker tells RugbyPass that she hopes through the documentary and tour she can help make a lasting impact on women’s rugby in three key areas of access, visibility and funding. In terms of visibility, Rush tells RugbyPass that there is a major need for the Premier 15s to secure a regular, free-to-air broadcast deal.

‘There is a reason why the men’s final broke viewership records this year when it aired on ITV4 instead of solely on BT Sport – we need to challenge the paywall structure in the women’s game. When we put women’s sport on a platform for all to see, we show women and girls that this sport is for them, we get people interested. I’m not saying I’d put every single game on television, the competition isn’t ready for that yet, but I’d want to see the big match ups free to air every weekend along with the semi-final and final.’

ADVERTISEMENT

The production value of those games is crucial for women’s rugby to reach and retain new audiences. No Woman No Try’s success on this front is part of what makes it a standout. Although the budget was tight, Rush was adamant that the final cut must look like ‘something straight out of Hollywood’ – and it’s fair to say she achieved this.

Rush goes on to tell RugbyPass ‘it is imperative that we start to create high value content for female rugby players – getting respect and commercialising the sport about more than what goes on in the stadiums, we need to create that star power. The Shaunagh Browns of the world are out there but we need to find more of them. We need to show that rugby represents everyone, and highlighting diverse individuals within the game is key’.

Brown highlights the importance of representation, saying ‘it’s also about those people who don’t have those role models in place at the moment, hearing or seeing someone like them in a place of influence and power, that’s what then brings people to realise, ‘Oh maybe I can do that too’.

The prop forward will certainly be showing the world what she can do in this year’s Rugby World Cup, set to kick off in New Zealand next month, after being named in England’s 32-player squad.

ADVERTISEMENT

Inclusive language can also go some way to encouraging women to feel they have a place in rugby, Rush says – ‘there are really simple things like broadcasters and commentators making small changes to the language they use, that can make a huge difference. At the moment, men’s sport tends to be the default; “rugby” and “women’s rugby”. Simply changing that to “men’s rugby” and “women’s rugby” could go a long way. Normalising women in sport being discussed as well as men’s, helps to change our societal default that women don’t belong there, ultimately helping women and girls know they belong there too.’

Rush goes on to say that although the documentary focused on women, its intention was to reach men in the community and in decision making positions. She says ‘there is no way to have this conversation without having men in it. Ugo Monye has been a massive supporter, and his presence in the documentary helped make sure it didn’t feel like women attacking men’.

The momentum in women’s rugby is building, with 10,000 supporters showing up for the TikTok Six Nations final (which also had a 64% increase in viewership). Rush tells RugbyPass that rugby ‘needs to capitalise on that momentum…we can see that the audience for women’s sport is growing, international women’s rugby as a product is ready now, more unions are beginning to back their countries with professional contracts for players. What we really need is for other countries to catch up with England on their national set ups and domestic leagues. We can’t sustain a whole sport with just one quality league’.

Although Rush is keen for rugby to kick on at the top level, she emphasises that grassroots inclusivity and growth is her main aim – ‘how good is it to get down the rugby club on the Saturday, have a beer (or non-alcoholic drink these days) with your mates – I just want everyone to have that’.

The No Woman No Try Tour is ongoing – tickets are on sale on via the No Woman No Try Website.

Watch No Woman No Try on Amazon Prime.

Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
ADVERTISEMENT
TRENDING
TRENDING Nigel Owens is back in rugby after landing new role Nigel Owens lands key new job back in rugby
Search