“Discriminative, unfair, sexist”: Women’s Varsity Relocated
The recent movement of the Women’s Varsity match on 26th October from Sandy Park stadium to the Sports Park has sparked outrage in the Women’s Rug by Club, with one anonymous EUWRFC member branding the move as “Discriminative, unfair, [and] sexist.”
Anonymous EUWRFC members voiced their concerns surrounding the movement of the fixture. One member stated that they thought it was “blatant sexism which has decreased opportunity for women in rugby.” Another commented that they were “extremely angry and disappointed.” When asked about the effect of the game being moved on Women’s Rugby at Exeter, members stated that this is a “huge setback for women’s rugby, not just in Exeter.”
Another stated that the move highlights that “the universities and Exeter Chiefs rugby club are still not supporting women’s rugby and woman’s sport” they went on to state that it “shows how far we still have to go to bridge the gap between men’s and woman’s sport including rugby.” One member underlined that the players “as sportswomen [have] faced adversity and sexism throughout their sporting lives and this only knocks them back.”
Blatant sexism which has decreased opportunity for women in rugby.An anonymous EUWRFC member
The move was announced via an Athletics Union Admin email on Friday 21st October, less than a week before the match was set to be played. When asked about what should have been done differently, one member stated that “the AU should have released an immediate statement” and that it is “appalling that we still have not heard anything from them.”
Another member commented that “weather is always going to be bad in October” and that the issue of weather should have been addressed “when they first organised varsity,” while another stated that “the pitch and weather was perfectly fine — they should have played both games”.
Speaking on the overall handling of the cancellation, one member stated that “more clarity and less censorship on what the team could say” was required. Members also raised issues with the ticketing and refunding of the game. They stated, “we should have refunds as they sold the tickets as two games” they went on “as one of them was cancelled we should be getting at least partial refunds”.
[This] shows how far we still have to go to bridge the gap between men’s and woman’s sport including rugby.
They stated that they know of “family and friends of the players who bought tickets for the women’s game for it not to be on … no refunds have been offered.” Another member stated that they’d had a “terrible experience” at the men’s varsity last year and that they purchased their ticket for Sandy Park to “support the women”. They stated that they “struggled to get a refund” and that they were “very disappointed to not get to watch a rugby game at Sandy Park with my friends.”
Finally, EUWRFC members repeatedly expressed the disappointment that came with the move stating that the cancellation “really broke the girls hearts” but also adding that it was “good to see so many clubs still coming to the crumb to show their support.”
One member brought to attention that “lots of the women’s team’s friends and family had specifically travelled and booked accommodation to see the women’s rugby team play at Sandy Park” and finally added that the movement of the game “soured these trips.” In addition to the concerns raised by other comments, one member stated that players were “shouted at for wanting to expose and bring to light discrimination.”
Commenting on the cancellation, a spokesperson for the AU stated, “Due to recent weather and the prediction for the days leading up to 26th October, we took the difficult decision to relocate the women’s rugby match which was planned as part of the ‘Double Header’ Varsity match on Wednesday at Sandy Park.
We were in regular discussion with our partners at Exeter Chiefs and they confirmed that in order to safeguard the pitch after the period of wet weather, only one match could be played. A large number of tickets had already been sold for the coaches for the men’s match, and it would not be possible for us to relocate this fixture, whilst still accommodating those who were planning to attend.
The University of Exeter Rugby club facilitated an immediate refund, via Fixr, to everyone who had booked coach travel for the 4:30pm coach out to Sandy Park. Further refunds were also given to any supporters who bought a Sandy Park ticket and no longer wanted to attend.
The women’s match went ahead at Sports Park 3G pitch at 4pm on the same day as well as the women’s 2’s who played Bath at 1pm. We are committed to supporting and promoting women’s rugby and we will be hosting a spotlight fixture at Topsham in Early February with further details on this event to follow shortly.”