A new organisation has been set up to celebrate and support the women who work in, play, watch and support the sport of rugby league.
Her Rugby League Association was created by Angela Powers, a Sky Sports reporter who has been involved in covering the game for 15 years.
â€œI have always been quietly proud of the fact that rugby league appeals to and attracts so many women, even though it is played predominantly by men and is characterised by aggressive contact,â€ she said.
â€œDespite its combative nature, it has grown to be considered THE sport for all the family, and that is reflected in the make up of the crowd and the warm and friendly atmosphere most people experience at live games.â€
Her Rugby League AssociationÊ¼s main objective is to promote the sport to new audiences by highlighting the part that women play in the game. By celebrating the positive aspects of the sport – and dispelling some outdated and inaccurate myths about who actually watches and plays it – Her RLA believes that those who have never played or watched a game might be tempted to Ê»give it a goÊ¼.
â€œRugby league, like many other sports, has some very real challenges right now. The reduction in some of its Sport England funding and the increasing difficulty in attracting new sponsors in a tough financial climate are making it harder to market and expand the sport.
â€œCouple that with the impending structural changes to Super League and the licensing system, and you can see why some may question its future direction. But people have been incorrectly predicting rugby leagueÊ¼s demise since its birth in 1895 – and we believe that enhancing the positive can only do it good in the longer term. ThatÊ¼s why we are here. To make a difference.â€
In its first year, Her RLA plans a number of new, exciting strategies to promote and support the sport and the women involved in it. They include:
â€¢ Organising events specifically targeted at a female audience but with the sport of rugby league at their heart;
â€¢ Creating a communications network so that women in the game can share ideas, opinions and expertise, via a forum for members on its website;
â€¢ Setting up networking and informal mentoring events and training for members, with a view to enhancing their skills within rugby league and to the benefit of the wider community;
â€¢ Commissioning research to discover the true picture of female participation in the sport, from playing to watching to volunteering to supporting, and everything in between, to enable better marketing to new and existing, key audiences;
â€¢ Highlighting the positive stories and experiences of women in the game, through the use of social and traditional media, and an annual Awards Celebration Evening.
â€œHer Rugby League Association isnÊ¼t about giving women in the game Ê»a voiceÊ¼…women already have one, and their opinions have always counted. This is about bringing them together, sharing ideas, helping each other and showing the world what a great, inclusive, and exciting sport it is. Spread the love!â€