Being a bloke I obviously have all the attributes required to quite easily come across as a chauvinist pig when talking about ladies sport so if I promise to tread carefully with this posting will you promise to cut me some slack?
A couple of weeks ago now I had the privilege to be present at Halton Ladies v Wigan St Pats ladies in the opening fixture of the Womens West National Conference. For the Wigan based team this was there first competitive match and for many only there 2nd game of rugby following on from a pre-season friendly.
I had no idea what to expect and if I’m honest was pleasantly surprised with what I encountered, unlike the male equivalent which as a player, spectator and photographer has always struck me as a very serious affair where winning seems to be far far more important than enjoyment. Pep talks behind the sticks after conceding a try often talk about “smashing opponents”, “most important game of our lifes” or “putting bodies on the line”, exchanges of smiles and friendly banter between opponents are virtually non-existent, safe for the rare moment normally involving old war horses enjoying the final days of Autumn in there rugby career so to speak.
The ladies game however is played in a totally different spirit, ok the collisions are possibly not as intense as those often seen in the male version but it still maintains a very physical presence that ensures respect for the players is equally justified as that given to there male counterparts, as I’m sure the young lady from St Pats whisked off to hospital to find she’d broken ribs will testify. But, players smile, laughter (of the pleasant sort!) was heard, I’m sure I even heard compliments being exchanged between opponents as various skills were displayed and the match wore on. That’s not to say the game wasn’t taken seriously though, Halton won, and won big, 68-8, the heads of the St Pats ladies never dropped, there was never the impression the game wasn’t being taken seriously yet there was what I can only describe as an “air of pleasantness” about the whole game that I’ve never witnessed in the male version of the game – outside of masters tournaments and pre-season friendlies.
I for one hope it continues, at 2 ½ my daughter is clearly to young to play, if you’d asked me before hand would I want her to play, I’d have said no, in all honesty, yet afterwards it would be a resounding yes, if when she’s old enough the game is still played in the same spirit – about the biggest compliment I can pay to this or any other sport!
Keywords: Halton Ladies RLC, Ladies Rugby, Marc Taylor, Marc Taylor Sports Photographer, Photography, Rugby, Rugby league, Sport, Sports Photography, Wigan, Wigan St Pats
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