The highs and lows of being a Rebel - Green and Gold Rugby
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The highs and lows of being a Rebel

The highs and lows of being a Rebel

After the Rebels’ second crushing defeat in a row I reached out to Rebels manager, Annmarie Collins, to see how her and the team were feeling. As she relayed her obvious disappointment to me she remarked that these were ‘the highs and lows of sport’. My response was ‘it’s time like these it’s almost a good thing that there won’t be hundreds of articles analysing every wrong move the team made like the men’s team would’ in which she said ‘totally, but at least it’s their job’.

This got me thinking about the highs and lows of being an amateur athlete, like the Super W teams are. Where the managers, coaches and players are all volunteers, yet their games are live on Kayo and Foxtel and are open to all to give their opinion and to analyse and critique.

The High’s

Prior to the Super W the only time on the big stage for these girls was for those who were part of the Wallaroos and the Rugby 7’s team. As Super W players, these teams are getting access to support, their travel arrangements are being paid for, and they are learning and growing as players. We need to develop our Wallaroos squad, so to have a competition such as the Super W is crucial and invaluable experience for these girls. Australian Women’s Rugby needs the Super W in order to flourish.

Our Wallaroo players are now being paid to represent their country, they are paid $500 to attend training camps and $1,000 when they are selected in the starting 23 for a test match. This is a huge for Women’s Rugby in Australia, and while there may be a long way to go it is a significant step in the right direction.

Photo Credit Getty Images

The Lows

Many of the top female athletes in Melbourne have chosen to focus on AFL ahead of Rugby as the AFLW have established themselves and now have a considerable following. AFLW players are earning a minimum of $13,400 and can earn as much as $24,600. While this isn’t a livable wage it is a very real incentive and could allow players to take some time off from their full time job to focus on training and the AFLW season. There is currently no real monetary incentive to strive to be a Wallaroo and none at all to be part of the Super W season.

The girls, the coaches and the management take part in the Super W for one reason, they love the sport.  The simple answer is that until they are able to be paid a wage to compete we are caught in a vicious cycle where the talent is not developing at a fast enough rate for a highly skillful competition which results in few visitor numbers which results in the justification of them not being paid to compete.

Photo Credit Getty Images

The Answer

If you want to see the advancement of Super W and Rugby in Australia then you need to support the women’s teams. You need to go to the games, you need to learn who the players are and get behind them. If we get behind them now, we are telling Rugby Australia that we believe in the Super W and that we will attend the games and we are saying we believe they should be paid.

We all understand that money talks and we understand that Rugby Australia cannot pay wages when people are not attending games. This Friday is a double header match, in the Super W the Melbourne Rebels take on Rugby WA at 5:10pm, followed by the Men’s game, the Melbourne Rebels v Brumbies. I cannot think of a better way to start the long weekend then heading down to AAMI park after work to support our Melbourne Rebels Women and Men.

I hope to see you there.

Photo Credit Getty Images

 

All photos courtesy of Getty Images

 

 

 

  • Dylan Langes

    I think the double headers are a really good idea, I will be going with my sister and her friends to both matches on Friday night in Melbourne.

    Really good analysis Denise, unfortunately these things take time but unless we start to see a change, you are right it is going to be a vicious cycle.

    Are there junior programs in Victoria for young girls to get into the sport? There was a large female turnout in the crowd last Friday at AAMI, but I wonder how you can get more of those girls interested in playing to help grow the sport.

    • Denise Houlihan

      I agree Dylan, the double headers are the best way to get engaged rugby audiences to see the women play! They absolutely do take time, but I am positive we are heading in the right direction.
      You are right, where I was sitting on Friday there were heaps of females. I think there is probably more of a focus on younger females playing AFL in Victoria, simply because it is the preferred game down here.

      • Dylan Langes

        Mind you the half time event got me inspired to play again when the guy said “come down for a run.” So I did and now Im really sore. But maybe Rugby Victoria should look at appealing to the female public more at halftime.
        Interesting about AFLW though is my friend went to uni with one of the player who before the competition started had never played football, was just a fit girl who liked sport. Maybe they need to find a way to attract those girls in whilst at the same time appealing to the 10 year old girls who in 10 years could be Rebels.

        • Denise Houlihan

          That’s true, I think they are focussing more on the younger girls playing AFL now though as there seems to be a legitimate pathway to a semi professional career! I think in the next 10 years we will see some amazing female talent come through in the AFLW :) In NSW and QLD we will no doubt see this for Rugby!

  • Happyman

    Great Article Denise

    While it is difficult in the Northern states I can only imagine the difficulties in Vic with the state religion. Hopefully the games get the support they deserve as the athletes in this game are fantastic.

    • Denise Houlihan

      Thanks so much :) I think we will get there, it will just takes time and needs everyone to get behind it!

  • formerflanker

    Having watched a few Super W games on TV and a similar number of AFLW short clips, I venture to say the AFLW skills are over-rated by some commentators.
    Women’s rugby, irrespective of match payments, appears to have more skilful players than the AFLW.
    I do need to watch more of both codes to confirm or deny my initial thoughts, but the range of tackling, passing, scrummaging, line out, and evasive running skills in Super W is extensive.
    Perhaps the crowds will improve as this message gets more widespread.

    • Denise Houlihan

      I think the Super W quality is quite high as well. QLD in particular, have looked incredibly impressive, there are some very talented women in that team. I think, down in Melbourne anyway, AFLW is being marketed and promoted a lot more, perhaps that is what needs to be the focus for Rugby!

    • GO THE Q REDS

      I agree from what I’ve seen too

  • Huw Tindall

    As we’ve seen with the men’s Super Rugby in Aus, without a competitive set of teams interest in the competition will plummet. Given how NSW and Qld are streaks ahead of Vic and WA is there anything that can be done, at least in the short term, to balance the teams out a bit? Not being full time paid professionals you can’t put in a draft or central contracting system as all the girls have day jobs! I know the teams opened up their trials to players outside their state but really you won’t have scores of players moving their lives for match payments.

    • Denise Houlihan

      You are exactly right! Without being offered any wage you simply cannot expect the girls to move interstate to play. I’m not sure what can be done in the interim to even up the competition.

      • RugbyReg

        Could we do an NRC structure? Brisbane City, QLD Country, NSW Rays, NSW Country, Rebels, Brumbies and Force?

        • Denise Houlihan

          That’s not a bad idea! The issue is attendance numbers are already quite low i’m not sure it could handle an extended season at this point! Maybe the derby’s would attract a larger audience though? I’m really excited for QLD and NSW this week!

  • GO THE Q REDS

    With all due respect… .. and I mean RESPECT as I respect women massively….. These articles are a bit of huff n puff. They always are. The sad reality of women and sport is people don’t watch women play. …. therefore the money isn’t there. If you think about it, even the clubs supporting the women’s leagues with regards to the support Vs revenue earned by the women is probably unfair as the men’s team could benefit from that funding weather its grassroots all the way to a fresh coat of paint in the showers. I don’t know. … I’m sure it’s rather complex when u really get into it…… but on a superficial lol the numbers don’t as up. Which truly is a shame for those that wish to play professionaly!

    • Denise Houlihan

      Absolutely I did mention that it is about money, until attendance improves they won’t pay the women to compete! Do you think if the quality improved through better grassroots training people would want to watch the women play? Or do you think it’s not really about the skill but simply that people don’t want to watch women play?

      • GO THE Q REDS

        I think if you look at science and history…. men are bigger faster and stronger. In general people will watch the Best athletes in sports. Attendance is not even close to what they need either. Even with big TV deals and big money sponsors these clubs and the competition often struggles. The funny thing is.. . Even knowing how in other industries SEX sells, like movies n TV, it still hasn’t Garunteed success for women’s sports who added even that into the mix with sports like lingerie league or even beach volleyball! It’s tricky taking on biology. …

        • Denise Houlihan

          Women’s tennis is one of the few exceptions, I think most viewers enjoy watching the women play tennis as much as the men? There are always going to be people who aren’t interest in watching the women play sport, and that is fine but I do feel like there is a shift happening (and will continue to happen even more over the next few years). I think with something like the lingerie league some viewers might have not watched it (who often would watch sport) because of the sexulisation of it. For now anyway I think it’s great that I can watch women play Rugby and AFL, it makes me happy that young girls can see them on the big screen and see these girls as something to aspire to.

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Yep great points. For me personally I LOVE watching the girls 7s. I just want to see these things done properly so they last. Not with some equality agenda that seems too be sneaking into everything these days. Like the v8supercars where they funded a women for THREE years in a full-time drive, and her good days are just in the top 15. I wonder if those millions of dollars would have been better suited advertising/encouraging Gocarts at girls schools? But at the same time as you point out you have to start somewhere!
          Think I read somewhere the other day that the top 1500 ranked men tennis players would probably be expected to beat Sarina Williams. These sorts of realities must not be forgotten when trying to set up these comps for women at professional lvls.

        • Denise Houlihan

          Yes the girls 7’s has been implemented really well and is very entertaining! I agree completely that it does need to be done properly and yes getting in at grassroots and getting the skill level where it needs to be makes sense to me!

    • disqus_NMX

      Agree, a lot of huff and puff. The idea that women’s rugby could ever go seriously professional is pure fantasy.

      • Denise Houlihan

        The AFLW is working really well (in Melbourne anyway)! There may not ever be the same audience as the men’s but I do think in 20 years we will look back and be shocked that women’s rugby wasn’t professional! Who knows though :) Time will tell!

        • GO THE Q REDS

          Well if it works well in Melbourne, or anywhere, they should be payed according to their draw value. . ..

        • Denise Houlihan

          That does make sense, there needs to be a paying audience!

      • GO THE Q REDS

        It’s a sad thing but a reality!

  • Patrick

    I’d love to be there, I wish I could be. I hope the Rebels girls and boys win!

    And thanks for the write-up.

    • Denise Houlihan

      Thanks Patrick :) yep go the Rebels!!

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