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Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news


Harlequins and England center Burford are passionate about the women’s rugby union continuing to grow around the world and playing their role off the pitch, from grassroots governance.

Last updated: 03/05/21 15:37 pm

Rachel Burford is passionate about the fact that the Women’s Rugby Union continues to grow around the world

As British sport began a weekend social media boycott, the England women’s rugby team found themselves in the dark.

The Red Roses’ long-awaited friendly against France was halted after Villeneuve d’Ascq’s spotlight suddenly went out in the 63rd minute, prematurely ending what had been a thrilling rematch of the Six Nations final of the Last weekend.

Captain Sarah Hunter was quick to point out that this could have happened to a team of either gender, but for many female rugby fans it was at least symbolically another example of their game. getting lost.

Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news

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Harlequins captain Rachael Burford is on a mission to make the future brighter, working at the forefront to elevate women’s football around the world, from governance to grassroots – and she is starting by going directly to the source: the girls.

“It’s really important for us not to just define everything as directors or at the head of the company,” said the England international. “We have to find out what’s going on on the ground.

“Have we asked the younger generation what they like, what they don’t like, why do they need help?”

So, as part of her world women’s rugby club, Burford, 34, wrote a starting XV of young rugby leaders across the UK.

Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news

Have we asked the younger generation what they like, what they don’t like, why do they need help?

Rachel Burford

The first cohort, announced in April, includes girls ages 9-18 who will act as an advisory board while receiving mentorship, learning opportunities and a chance to connect with peers sharing. the same ideas.

“We just had a meeting to discuss clothes that affect them, you know, that don’t suit them as girls,” Burford said. “How do they want their coaches to approach them around menstrual cycles?

“We really want to understand how girls think and feel, so we can help support and disseminate this information, so that all rugby clubs around the world that have women’s rugby can access this information to better support their players and their club environment.

“We need to hear them because I might have an idea, and I might have an opinion, but I’m not 14 anymore and things have moved on and they have changed.”

Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news

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In 2019, World Rugby had 2.7 million female players worldwide, as well as a promising 28% increase in the number of female players registered with its member unions between 2017-2018, the first year of the Women’s Development Action Plan. women of the organization.

Two weeks ago, the RFU announced plans to increase female participation by 50%, from 40,000 to 60,000 female players by 2025, and bring female fans and followers to a share of interest of 40%.

“We have to look at the schools,” Burford said of meeting those goals. “I think where there are options for boys in school right now, there aren’t for girls. I think this is a massive way to help introduce new players. in the game.”

“[But] so what is the relationship after that with the clubs etc. locally to recruit and retain the girls who take the ball and leave? “

Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news

I think where there is an option for boys in school right now, there is not for girls. I think this is a massive way to help introduce new players to the game.

Rachel Burford

The Chatham native, who won 84 caps for England, has long been a staunch supporter of women’s rugby and in 2016 became the first professional player on the Rugby Players Association’s players council.

In March, she was appointed head of women’s rugby at International Rugby Players, the world’s body for athletes in the sport, and one of Burford’s top priorities, as with her young XV, is to directly solicit feedback from those who want to see it. ‘she was appointed to serve.

“Anyone can think they know what’s going on in Ireland or France [but]… Certainly with the women’s game, this is not a shoe for everyone, ”said Burford.

Burford could soon be joined on the global governance scene by Cristina Flores of Rugby Americas North or Ada Milby of Asia Rugby, both of whom hope to fill a vacant seat on the World Rugby Executive Committee in the May 12 elections.

Rachael Burford: Harlequins captain and England international team bid to elevate women’s rugby |  Rugby news

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Only one of the current squad members, former US ice hockey Olympian Angela Ruggiero, is female and Burford would love to see one of her young XVs take a seat one day.

So what’s her advice to girls who dream of changing the game from the top?

“To be in a room is one thing, but to be able to challenge is another, and to speak out is another,” said Burford.

“But if you have the conviction and the confidence, because you have done the research, because you have done the work, you should support yourself.”

Just like she did.

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