The Stor-Age Pirates Women's Rugby Team Go From Strength to Strength
Rugby Africa has dedicated the month of May to women’s rugby in Africa. There is no doubt that women’s rugby has seen rapid growth over recent years. South Africa is at the forefront of that growth, alongside other leading rugby nations.
World Rugby’s 2016 statistics show that 771 459 men, women and children now play the game in Africa, with women and girls accounting for more than a quarter of all global players. When these updated statistics are revealed in coming months, it will be no surprise to see this percentage having increased substantially.
World Rugby’s all-inclusive participation programme ‘Get Into Rugby’ recently revealed that half of Africa’s participants are female (46 per cent), with this number expected to grow over coming years.
Looking at South Africa, we have seen exceptional growth in women’s rugby. One such example is the Springbok Women’s Sevens team. They made history last month by playing in their first ever Rugby Sevens Women’s Tournament.
Stor-Age Pirates Women's Rugby Team
Another, more localised, example is the Stor-Age Pirates Rugby Club women’s team, which has grown from four players in May 2017, to over 30 players today.
The women’s rugby team started when Chanel Alberts, a qualified sport scientist and conditioning coach, approached Brad Guymer, Chairperson of Pirates, about the possibility of getting involved in the club as a coach. Last year, Guymer then suggested the start of the first ever Pirates women’s team.
Their first match was played in July 2017. The women’s rugby team beat the then top ranked club in Johannesburg with a convincing score of 52-12. Today, they have yet to lose to a Johannesburg-based club.
Comments Chanel Alberts, founder and coach of the Stor-Age Pirates women’s rugby team, “We are proud to say that we are contributing to the development and rise in women’s rugby. Women’s rugby will grow when it starts attracting spectators. At Pirates, we are trying to achieve this. So far very successfully. We advertise our games and try and spread the word via social media. Once you have more people excited to come and support, the more sponsors, such as self storage company Stor-Age, will also join in.”
The Stor-Age Pirates women’s rugby team currently receives support from sponsors, management and the men’s rugby team. The future of women’s rugby looks promising. In 2018 the Golden Lions Rugby Union started the first ever women’s rugby league in Johannesburg. It kicked off at the beginning of April 2018 and the final will be on 8 June 2018. The ten-a-side league aims to develop new players and provide a platform for women in Johannesburg to compete on a regular basis. The league currently consists of eight clubs, with the Pirates Club being one of them. The goal is to have a seven-a-side tournament running later in the year in August.
The Pirates Club intends to expand to and explore national and International Sevens Tournaments. There are already two Sevens Tournaments scheduled in September. The club has also applied to participate in the Dubai Sevens at an entry level tournament in late November.
Alberts comments, “We need more women’s rugby televised to really get more sponsors on board. The question is how to get more people to support. I truly believe you have to play more entertaining rugby. This will automatically lead to growth in support and sponsors. At Pirates we aim to achieve just that. We play a game that encourages running rugby, scoring tries and getting you as a spectator on your feet.”
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