Girls’ matches more than double as female participation grows

Women and girls’ rugby in Scotland is booming as increased support and visibility has led to significant growth in teams, players and a more than doubling of competitive girls’ fixtures.

Figures released by Scottish Rugby, in its 2017/18 Annual Report, highlight the positive trends across the board in the women and girls' games.

The number of competitive girls’ matches increased by 139% in the past season on the 2016/17 playing calendar, as the development of cup and conference competitions across Scotland provided more opportunities to play.

This upswing in fixtures parallels a 19% jump in women’s teams across the country which takes the number of women and girls’ teams to 224.

University sides have also seen a boost to numbers with a 27% player increase as 670 female players now turn out for 16 Scottish universities.

Scottish Rugby Head of Women and Girls Rugby, Gemma Fay, said: “The women and girls’ game is certainly heading in the right direction.

“Things like the #BeTheBestYou campaign, Tartan Touch and the amazing example set by our contracted players, top level coaches and referees have really shone a spotlight on the women’s game and things are beginning to take off.

It’s fantastic to see growth in nearly every aspect of the women’s game and we’ll aim to continue that over the coming seasons.”

Scottish Rugby’s #BeTheBestYou campaign, which highlights the positive social and physical benefits of rugby for women and girls, has so far introduced 946 female players aged 11-25 to rugby since launching in 2017.

The initiative has worked with clubs, schools and universities, helping to attract new players and bring former players back into the fold. Further work with Girlguiding Scotland is expected to see this number continue to grow.

Tartan Touch – which attracted 1,700 players in its first year to play a simplified, non-contact version of the game – has helped some clubs capitalise on the attendance of an estimated 560 female players across the country* with the establishment of new women’s teams.

Performance rugby

Rugby in Scotland has also seen progress at the elite level in line with the growth in the grassroots game.

Jade Konkel signed as Scotland’s first contracted player in 2016 and was joined last year by Lisa Thomson and Chloe Rollie in signing with Scottish Rugby and playing for French Top 8 side, Lille Metropole Rugby Club Villeneuvois. 

Scotland Women scrum-half, Sarah Law, also signed a contract while continuing to play in Scotland.

All four played central roles in Scotland Women’s recent Women’s Six Nations campaign in which they recorded their first away victory in 12 years over Ireland in Dublin.

Scottish Rugby has directly supported 245 talented female players over the past season through the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy and Scotland age-grade sides – including Scotland’s four contracted players.

Coaching and refereeing

Opportunities for non-players in the women’s game also continue to grow with notable appointments for referees and coaches.

Full-time referee, Hollie Davidson, completed her first season with the governing body and recently officiated at the Rugby World Cup 7s in San Francisco and Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Former Scotland Women internationalists, Louise Dalgliesh and Claire Cruickshank, have taken up coaching roles in the newly-established Scottish Futures age-grade sides, which provide opportunities for aspiring future internationalists to train and play in a competitive environment. 

*Based on a Tartan Touch survey of 241 players where 33.2% respondents were female