Sports

How Australia’s women are leading the way

Australian rugby taking 'enormous steps' into the future

By George Ramsay and Alex Thomas, CNN

Updated 5:57 AM ET, Tue February 13, 2018

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CNN's Neil Curry reports."},{"title":"Meet the doctor training elite athletes' eyes","duration":"02:31","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/11/07/sherylle-calder-eye-doctor-sport-scientist-rfu-rugby-england-eyegym-intv.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/11/07/sherylle-calder-eye-doctor-sport-scientist-rfu-rugby-england-eyegym-intv.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171107121444-rugby-eye-doc-tease-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/11/07/sherylle-calder-eye-doctor-sport-scientist-rfu-rugby-england-eyegym-intv.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"Dr. Sherylle Calder, sport scientist and performance coach for the RFU, talks to CNN about Eyegym, a training program for athletes' eyes.","descriptionText":"Dr. Sherylle Calder, sport scientist and performance coach for the RFU, talks to CNN about Eyegym, a training program for athletes' eyes."},{"title":"Waking the sleeping dragon of rugby in China","duration":"02:34","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/04/06/china-rugby-football-association-sleeping-dragon-spc.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/04/06/china-rugby-football-association-sleeping-dragon-spc.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161219085832-china-rugby-front-row-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/04/06/china-rugby-football-association-sleeping-dragon-spc.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"In mainland China, rugby is beginning to find its feet and efforts are underway to try and grow the game and wake the "sleeping dragon" of the rugby world.","descriptionText":"In mainland China, rugby is beginning to find its feet and efforts are underway to try and grow the game and wake the "sleeping dragon" of the rugby world."},{"title":"'It's part of our life': Rugby in South Africa","duration":"23:00","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/12/21/south-africa-world-rugby-springboks-cape-town-sevens-spc.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/12/21/south-africa-world-rugby-springboks-cape-town-sevens-spc.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/171221141418-south-africa-rugby-sevens-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/12/21/south-africa-world-rugby-springboks-cape-town-sevens-spc.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"CNN World Rugby kicks off its new season with the opening rounds of the Sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town and a look at a rugby-mad country.","descriptionText":"CNN World Rugby kicks off its new season with the opening rounds of the Sevens World Series in Dubai and Cape Town and a look at a rugby-mad country."},{"title":"The story of the 'greatest rugby player on earth'","duration":"02:26","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-richie-mccaw.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-richie-mccaw.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170424173831-cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-richie-mccaw-00000412-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-richie-mccaw.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"'Chasing Great' is a movie tracking the life of perhaps the greatest rugby player the world has ever known, Richie McCaw.","descriptionText":"'Chasing Great' is a movie tracking the life of perhaps the greatest rugby player the world has ever known, Richie McCaw."},{"title":"The mystical side of New Zealand rugby","duration":"02:20","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-haka-maori.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-haka-maori.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170424173640-cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-haka-maori-00005122-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/04/24/cnn-world-rugby-new-zealand-rugby-haka-maori.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"CNN World Rugby explores the mystical side of rugby in New Zealand.","descriptionText":"CNN World Rugby explores the mystical side of rugby in New Zealand."},{"title":"UAE's first all-female rugby sevens team","duration":"02:54","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2017/06/28/cnn-world-rugby-first-uae-female-rugby-team-dubai-spc.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2017/06/28/cnn-world-rugby-first-uae-female-rugby-team-dubai-spc.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170628121741-cnn-world-rugby-first-uae-female-rugby-team-dubai-spc-00025209-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2017/06/28/cnn-world-rugby-first-uae-female-rugby-team-dubai-spc.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"CNN World Rugby meets the United Arab Emirates' first all-female rugby sevens team. ","descriptionText":"CNN World Rugby meets the United Arab Emirates' first all-female rugby sevens team. "},{"title":"The secrets of Fiji's 'mystical' rugby","duration":"04:02","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://edition.cnn.com/specials/sport/world-rugby","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-fiji-rugby.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-fiji-rugby.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/160729140537-spc-cnn-world-rugby-fiji-rugby-00012103-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-fiji-rugby.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"Fiji coach Ben Ryan tells CNN World Rugby how his all-conquering sevens team is coping with being a gold-medal favorite at the Rio 2016 Olympics.","descriptionText":"Fiji coach Ben Ryan tells CNN World Rugby how his all-conquering sevens team is coping with being a gold-medal favorite at the Rio 2016 Olympics."},{"title":"Rugby sevens: The game explained","duration":"01:19","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://edition.cnn.com/specials/sport/world-rugby","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-rugby-sevens-explainer.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-rugby-sevens-explainer.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/160729133950-spc-cnn-world-rugby-rugby-sevens-explainer-00005322-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-rugby-sevens-explainer.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"Rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut at Rio 2016 — CNN World Rugby explains the key differences between the shortened format and the 15-a-side game.","descriptionText":"Rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut at Rio 2016 — CNN World Rugby explains the key differences between the shortened format and the 15-a-side game."},{"title":"Rugby sevens: From Scotland to Rio","duration":"03:09","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://edition.cnn.com/specials/sport/world-rugby","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-history-of-rugby-sevens.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-history-of-rugby-sevens.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/160729131955-spc-cnn-world-rugby-history-of-rugby-sevens-00011112-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/sports/2016/07/29/spc-cnn-world-rugby-history-of-rugby-sevens.cnn/video/playlists/rugby-intl-spc/","description":"CNN World Rugby traces the roots of the sevens game from 19th-century Scotland to modern-day Brazil, where it makes its Olympic debut.","descriptionText":"CNN World Rugby traces the roots of the sevens game from 19th-century Scotland to modern-day Brazil, where it makes its Olympic debut."}],'js-video_headline-featured-8kcsm6','',"js-video_source-featured-8kcsm6",true,true,'rugby-intl-spc');if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28:  Australia celebrate victory after defeating New Zealand in the Women's Final match during day three of the 2018 Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28:  Australia celebrate victory after defeating New Zealand in the Women's Final match during day three of the 2018 Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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England players including England's captain Harry Mallinder (C) celebrate with the trophy after winning the World Rugby U20 Championship 2016, final match between England and Ireland at the AJ Bell Stadium in Manchester, north west England on June 25, 2016. 

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RC Toulon's French centre Mathieu Bastareaud celebrates at the final whistle of the Champions Cup rugby union match RC Toulon vs Bath at The Mayol Stadium in Toulon, southeastern France on December 9, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS        (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Story highlights

  • Women's rugby is thriving in Australia
  • The women's rugby sevens gold at Rio 2016 gave the sport a huge boost
  • The women's sevens team was recently granted pay parity with the men

(CNN)On and off the field, Australian rugby is breaking new ground.

Last year, Raelene Castle became the first woman to head up any rugby organization when she was unveiled as the new CEO of Rugby Australia.Shortly afterward, Australia's male and female sevens players were granted pay parity on what was declared a "great day for women's sport."And then, in January, Australia's women made history in Sydney by becoming the first team to win a Sevens World Series event without conceding a single point.Follow @cnnsport

For Castle, the women's success on the field helped pave the way for the advances made off it, most notably in pay parity.England's Owen Farrell celebrates his side's 12-6 victory over Wales during the second weekend of the Six Nations. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — England vs. Wales – England's Owen Farrell celebrates his side's 12-6 victory over Wales during the second weekend of the Six Nations. Hide Caption 1 of 20The home side raced into an early lead at Twickenham courtesy of two Jonny May tries. But controversy soon followed... Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — England vs. Wales – The home side raced into an early lead at Twickenham courtesy of two Jonny May tries. But controversy soon followed…Hide Caption 2 of 20After Anthony Watson (C) and Gareth Anscombe (R) dived at a kick in England's in-goal area, the television match official ruled that Watson had touched the ball down first. Wales coach Warren Gatland felt his side was denied a try, calling the decision a "terrible mistake" in what turned out to be a tightly-contested affair. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — England vs. Wales – After Anthony Watson (C) and Gareth Anscombe (R) dived at a kick in England's in-goal area, the television match official ruled that Watson had touched the ball down first. Wales coach Warren Gatland felt his side was denied a try, calling the decision a "terrible mistake" in what turned out to be a tightly-contested affair. Hide Caption 3 of 20Ireland cruised past Italy 56-19 in Dublin, with Conor Murray (pictured) getting on the score sheet. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — Ireland vs. Italy – Ireland cruised past Italy 56-19 in Dublin, with Conor Murray (pictured) getting on the score sheet.Hide Caption 4 of 20While Italy crossed for three tries, it wasn't enough to secure a bonus point. The Azzurri remain winless and bottom of the championship. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — Ireland vs. Italy – While Italy crossed for three tries, it wasn't enough to secure a bonus point. The Azzurri remain winless and bottom of the championship.Hide Caption 5 of 20Traveling French fans were in full voice at Murrayfield for their side's clash with Scotland. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — Scotland vs. France – Traveling French fans were in full voice at Murrayfield for their side's clash with Scotland. Hide Caption 6 of 20But it was the home supporters who had more reason to cheer as their side won 32-26, picking up a first win of the tournament. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — Scotland vs. France – But it was the home supporters who had more reason to cheer as their side won 32-26, picking up a first win of the tournament.Hide Caption 7 of 20Greig Laidlaw put in a flawless kicking display, slotting 22 points from the tee. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 2 — Scotland vs. France – Greig Laidlaw put in a flawless kicking display, slotting 22 points from the tee.Hide Caption 8 of 20On the opening weekend of the Six Nations, Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton was the hero as his side claimed a last gasp 15-13 victory over France. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — France vs. Ireland – On the opening weekend of the Six Nations, Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton was the hero as his side claimed a last gasp 15-13 victory over France.Hide Caption 9 of 20Sexton scored a long range drop goal as the match headed into injury time to claim victory. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — France vs. Ireland – Sexton scored a long range drop goal as the match headed into injury time to claim victory.Hide Caption 10 of 20Irish fans celebrate in the Stade de France. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — France vs. Ireland – Irish fans celebrate in the Stade de France.Hide Caption 11 of 20Controversy arose in the game after France's Antoine Dupont was sent for a head injury assessment (HIA) despite appearing to injure his knee. The HIA call enabled France, who had used all of their substitutes, to reintroduce starting scrum half Maxime Machenaud as a temporary replacement during the game's closing stages. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — France vs. Ireland – Controversy arose in the game after France's Antoine Dupont was sent for a head injury assessment (HIA) despite appearing to injure his knee. The HIA call enabled France, who had used all of their substitutes, to reintroduce starting scrum half Maxime Machenaud as a temporary replacement during the game's closing stages.Hide Caption 12 of 20The dramatic nature of Ireland's late victory left the French crowd dejected. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — France vs. Ireland – The dramatic nature of Ireland's late victory left the French crowd dejected. Hide Caption 13 of 20Scotland were another side to feel the blues on opening weekend as they succumbed 34-7 to Wales in Cardiff. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Wales vs. Scotland – Scotland were another side to feel the blues on opening weekend as they succumbed 34-7 to Wales in Cardiff.Hide Caption 14 of 20Leigh Halfpenny scored two tries for the rampant Welsh. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Wales vs. Scotland – Leigh Halfpenny scored two tries for the rampant Welsh.Hide Caption 15 of 20Steff Evans (pictured) and Gareth Davies also crossed the line for Wales. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Wales vs. Scotland – Steff Evans (pictured) and Gareth Davies also crossed the line for Wales.Hide Caption 16 of 20A happy Wales fan takes in the action in Cardiff as Wales trounce Scotland. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Wales vs. Scotland – A happy Wales fan takes in the action in Cardiff as Wales trounce Scotland.Hide Caption 17 of 20The final match of the opening weekend saw Italy face England in Rome. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Italy vs. England – The final match of the opening weekend saw Italy face England in Rome.Hide Caption 18 of 20Debutant Sam Simmonds scored twice for England as the reigning champions cut loose to win 46-15. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Italy vs. England – Debutant Sam Simmonds scored twice for England as the reigning champions cut loose to win 46-15.Hide Caption 19 of 20Owen Farrell also touched down and contributed four conversions and a penalty. Photos: Six Nations 2018: Story of the tournamentRound 1 — Italy vs. England – Owen Farrell also touched down and contributed four conversions and a penalty.Hide Caption 20 of 20owen farrell celebrate englandjonny may try wales englandwales england six nations watson anscombe conor murray italy tryitaly ireland gori tryfrance fans scotlandscotland france fanLaidlawsexton teasejohnny sexton rugby ireland franceIrish fans six nationsAntoine Dupont rugby ireland francefrance fan six nations ireland francegareth davies scotland wales six nationsLeigh Halfpenny six nations scotlandsteff evans rugby six nationsrugby six nations wales fanjack nowell six nations ebgland italyengland six nations sam simmondsOwen farrell six nations england italyRead MoreREAD: The incredible story of "Cool Runnings on grass""Athletes are training just as hard as the men, delivering commercial outcomes like the men are and therefore you can start to have not only the rational conversation about equality but also the more emotive conversation about it," she told CNN's World Rugby."It's an enormous step forward for our women's sevens team and I absolutely believe it's the right one." Australia is unbeaten in this season's Sevens World Series, winning tournaments in Dubai and Sydney. Add to this an Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016 and it's not surprise the seven-a-side game is booming Down Under — participation increased from 200,000 to 1.7 million between 2014 and 2017, including a 33% rise during the Olympic year. Australia's Emma Tonegato (L), Charlotte Caslick (C) and Dominique Du Toit (R) celebrate beating New Zealand in the final of the Sydney Sevens. Australia's Emma Tonegato (L), Charlotte Caslick (C) and Dominique Du Toit (R) celebrate beating New Zealand in the final of the Sydney Sevens.

Eye on the future

The first women's Sevens World Series took place in 2012-13 and Australia became the first nation other than New Zealand to lift the title in 2016. This season's competition takes in five venues with Australia well positioned to claim its second crown.This year there's the added incentive of a World Cup in July, hosted by the USA in San Francisco, and the Commonwealth Games, hosted in Australia's Gold Coast. Fiji overturned a first-half deficit against South Africa to claim its first title of the season in New Zealand. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Hamilton, New Zealand – Fiji overturned a first-half deficit against South Africa to claim its first title of the season in New Zealand.Hide Caption 1 of 6Australia's women enjoyed a storming start to the season. <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/29/sport/sydney-australia-rugby-sevens-world-series/index.html">In Sydney</a>, Tim Walsh's side became the first team ever to go a whole tournament without conceding a point. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Sydney, Australia – Australia's women enjoyed a storming start to the season. In Sydney, Tim Walsh's side became the first team ever to go a whole tournament without conceding a point. Hide Caption 2 of 6There was more good news to come for home fans. The men <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/29/sport/sydney-australia-rugby-sevens-world-series/index.html">eased past South Africa 29-0</a> in the final, with Ben O'Donnell (pictured) grabbing a brace. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Sydney, Australia – There was more good news to come for home fans. The men eased past South Africa 29-0 in the final, with Ben O'Donnell (pictured) grabbing a brace. Hide Caption 3 of 6The All Blacks claimed a first tournament victory since March 2016 in South Africa, <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/11/sport/rugby-sevens-world-series-round-two-cape-town-new-zealand-haka/index.html">toppling Argentina </a>in the final. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Cape Town, South Africa – The All Blacks claimed a first tournament victory since March 2016 in South Africa, toppling Argentina in the final. Hide Caption 4 of 6Having finished second to New Zealand in last season's overall standings, Australia's women got their campaign off to winning ways by <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/04/sport/rugby-sevens-world-series-dubai-round-one-south-africa/index.html">overwhelming the US 34-0</a> in the opening tournament in Dubai. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Dubai, UAE – Having finished second to New Zealand in last season's overall standings, Australia's women got their campaign off to winning ways by overwhelming the US 34-0 in the opening tournament in Dubai.Hide Caption 5 of 6Last year's world champion South Africa started this season as they ended the last. The Blitzboks <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/04/sport/rugby-sevens-world-series-dubai-round-one-south-africa/index.html">saw off New Zealand 24-12</a> in the UAE. Photos: Rugby Sevens 2017-18Dubai, UAE – Last year's world champion South Africa started this season as they ended the last. The Blitzboks saw off New Zealand 24-12 in the UAE. Hide Caption 6 of 6Paula Dranisinukula fiji sevens hamiltonrugby sevens season so far 4rugby sevens season so far 5rugby sevens season so far 3rugby sevens season so far 6rugby sevens season so far 2The stars of the Australian team have both youth and experience on their side. Emma Tonegato is 22 but has already scored 73 Sevens World Series tries. Charlotte Caslick is the same age and has already played in 138 games. While the team's immediate future looks promising, it's long-term prospects are equally positive. A university sevens league has recently been introduced, giving up-and-coming players the chance to not only develop their skills, but to also stake a claim for national selection. Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videos"It's just going leaps and bounds," says sevens co-captain Sharni Williams, one of the gold medal winners in Rio."Having a new CEO as well come in on top of what we've started to create — women's sport in Australia is really taking off."');$vidEndSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate–inactive').addClass('video__end-slate–active');}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;var configObj = {thumb: 'none',video: 'sports/2018/01/19/ben-ryan-france-rugby-sevens-fiji-summer-olympics-world-rugby-spc.cnn',width: '100%',height: '100%',section: 'domestic',profile: 'expansion',network: 'cnn',markupId: 'body-text_28',adsection: 'cnn.com_specialreports_rugbysevensworldwide_inpage',frameWidth: '100%',frameHeight: '100%',posterImageOverride: 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!Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== 'undefined' && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});/* videodemanddust is a default feature of the injector */CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete('videodemanddust');Can Ben Ryan work magic with France?Can Ben Ryan work magic with France?

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Can Ben Ryan work magic with France? 06:13A healthy position to be in, but getting there hasn't necessarily been easy. Even Tim Walsh, coach of the women's sevens team, was forced to reassess his rugby values. "Seven years ago I was offered the coach and I said 'no, I'm not coaching women's rugby,'" he admitted."The whole world is seeing what amazing athletes and rugby players the women are. They're basically opening up a whole new genre and a whole new market to world rugby."Original Article

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