Former England Women international Kim Oliver believes Bath Rugby’s International Women’s Day celebration this Sunday will remind people that rugby is a sport for everyone – no matter who you are.
Oliver will be joined by Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Sarah Hunter and Wales international Caryl Thomas at the Rec to showcase the women’s game as part of Premiership Rugby’s new Rugby4All programme.
With around 40 girls aged 11-18 from the Bath area expected to attend the morning coaching session, followed by interviews with the coaches, Oliver believes it will be an enriching experience for all.
“It will be a fantastic day for the girls and a fantastic day for Bath Ladies,” the 31-year-old former Test centre explained.
“I jumped at the chance to get involved, the Rugby4All programme is a great opportunity to try and get more girls playing club rugby.
“We need to try and turn around this misconception that rugby is a man’s game and the idea that girls should only be playing sports like netball and tennis.
“The girls are going to be given a chance to work on their techniques and hopefully they will realise that in rugby it doesn’t matter what size you are.
“You can be short, tall, fast or small – there’s a position for everyone out there on the pitch.”
Premiership Rugby’s Rugby4All programme is backed by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to promote diversity and equality in rugby.
The programme not only aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in rugby, but to provide better access for disabled people and to promote the game among Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups.
The girls attending Sunday’s session will also be encouraged to attend the Bath Ladies v Rosslyn Park game which kicks off at 2pm. Entry is FREE for that crucial league match
Oliver admits that over the past ten years the progress in women’s rugby has been staggering – with the recent £2 million government investment through the EHRC into promoting a more diverse sport proving a massive boost.
“There’s just been an increased acceptance of the women’s game in recent times and this programme is a clear example of that drive to get more girls involved,” she added.
“It’s so good to see the progress. While ten years ago you’d only have female players’ parents or partners coming along to watch their games, now there are massive crowds at some of the ladies games with five or six thousand people attending.
“And to have the backing of the government is invaluable. This funding brings in better equipment and makes sure the girls can have as much fun as possible when they participate on days like Sunday.”
For more information about the Rugby4All programme including how to get involved, please visit premiershiprugby.com/rugby4all