Engaging girls in sport

Women’s Rugby England’s goal is to get 25,000, women & girls playing contact Rugby by 2017. The strategy focuses on grassroots playing, and a coaching and volunteering pathway to encourage younger and secondary school aged girls to be inspired to take up the sport.

Local clubs and communities throughout the UK are focusing on the facilities they offer and are changing the perception that Rugby is a sport for males. Improvements to club amenities are also backed up by a warm and welcoming culture introducing women to the sport through an increased number of volunteers and coaches to help our young women to develop during their sporting journey. This initiative will give every female the opportunity to fulfil their potential on and off the field. Schools can also play their part in encouraging girls to participate in and enjoy Rugby.

Whilst playing rugby has obvious health and fitness benefits for girls (and boys), its impact on confidence, resilience and teamwork will go far beyond the rugby field to the classroom and life in general. Tag Rugby & Touch Rugby are on the increase and seen as key way to introduce girls to this character building game with toughness becoming aspirational – Strong is the new skinny!

With fewer role models to look to, little or no experience of watching rugby and the traditional view that rugby is a boy’s sport, girls can sometimes be reluctant to participate though. Here are a few ideas for ways to help your girls to enjoy and benefit from playing rugby.

• Provide well communicated and co-ordinated practice sessions. This will help girls to feel confident in participating fully.
• Don’t be afraid to change up the rules of the game make it a little more girl friendly. Specifying a certain number of passes before a try will appeal to girl’s natural sense of team playing and ensure that everyone gets to have a go. Removing the option to pass may also allow girls to develop different ways of playing.
• Games of touch or tag Rugby with smaller teams will ensure that all girls get the opportunity to participate and develop skills helping to build confidence.
• Vary your coaching style to suit girl’s needs which may include the need to discuss tactics and the reasons behind them.
• Promote respect for each and focus on tactics based on skill and speed rather than strength and aggression to ensure that everyone feels safe to join in.
• Focus on practising specific skills that don’t feature in many other girls sports e.g. passing whilst running instead of stopping to throw.

Do you have any tips or ideas for getting girls playing rugby or engaged in sport in general?

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