Guest post: Just about everything revolved around the physical differences

Originally a comment by Graham Douglas on Julie don’t want no stinkin’ fair competition.

I’ll admit up front that I am a huge rugby (union) fan. The team I support (Sale Sharks) started up a women’s team about three years ago and they now play in the top league for women’s rugby in England. I go down to watch them whenever I can because the standard of rugby played is very high. The games are most enjoyable and I always try to encourage anyone with even a vague interest in rugby to get down and watch the women.

All of which pre(r)amble is to say that the supporters’ club organised a meet&greet with some of the players and coaching staff of the women’s team last week.There was a Q&A session and, whilst there was no mention of TiMs in rugby, they were asked what they thought were the main differences between the men’s and women’s games.

Just about everything revolved around the physical differences between men and women. One of the first things mentioned was neck strength – I hadn’t known that the women have special training to improve neck strength and are regularly monitored on it. They were saying that they are all very aware of being more vulnerable in contact – even against other women – and prefer to play to avoid the crunching tackles that men revel in. (Not to that there aren’t any: there’s no quarter given when it comes down to stopping an opponent making ground.)

What I also found intriguing was that there is mounting evidence that menstruation increases susceptibility to some forms of injury. I can’t remember what they quoted, but it was things like fractures and other stuff that you might not immediately associate with periods – or, at least, do a double take if it’s mentioned.

What was abundantly clear, even though no-one was explicit about it, is that allowing men – of any calibre – to play against women would kill the sport by making it impossible for women to play without greatly heightened levels of risk.

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