Women’s sport weekly wrap: Buildcorp backs women’s XV product

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    Another week. Another blow for the ARU.

    This week the ARU has been under fire after it was announced that Buildcorp had decided to end its role as naming rights sponsor of the National Rugby Championship.

    Buildcorp has been a long-standing and proud partner of the NRC since 2014 and is a company that is extremely passionate about rugby and particularly women’s rugby, as demonstrated through its sponsorship of the Women XVs National Championships and being front of jersey sponsor of the Australian Wallaroos.

    The reason Buildcorp is no longer continuing its sponsorship of the NRC is because despite multiple requests from Buildcorp for a women’s XVs version of the NRC to be implemented, the request has fallen on deaf ears. Several years after making this request, Buildcorp has seen no further action.

    I’m not going to use this article to have a crack at the ARU – it seems that enough people are doing so already.

    Instead I want to use this space to congratulate Buildcorp, and in particular its principal and co-founder, Josephine Sukkar, for her continued commitment to women’s rugby and for being brave enough to discontinue a partnership that simply was not working for her company.

    Buildcorp wants to work with other organisations that provide equal opportunities for men and women and unfortunately, when it comes to the women’s XV space, rugby is just not there yet. There has certainly been improvement, but there is still plenty of work to do.

    The ARU may be struggling – there is discontent from fans, the Western Force are preparing for arbitration and Australia’s role in SANZAAR is being questioned – but until their commitment to the women’s XV product is as noticeable as their support and promotion of the sevens program, questions about the organisation’s commitment to gender equality will continue to be asked.

    And speaking of the sevens product, many have queried why Buildcorp wouldn’t just get behind the Aussie Pearls instead.

    The ARU is launching a national women’s sevens competition in August. The Aussie Pearls are a recognisable brand in Australian sport, and Charlotte Caslick is a household name.

    When I mention the Wallaroos to people, their general response is ‘the who?’.

    While the ARU seem to be spending millions of dollars per year on women’s sevens, it does not look like the XV format of the game is being taken as seriously.

    Credit to Buildcorp for rolling up its sleeves and demanding that the XV version of the game is remembered and for not taking the easy approach and aligning with the more popular version of the game.

    Sukkar may be close to wonder woman, but she cannot champion this format of the game on her own. She needs our help.

    If you are someone who loves rugby and is feeling disheartened by the state of play of Australian rugby, then it’s time to throw yourself behind a team that really needs your support.

    Today the Australian Wallaroos will line up against England at 10.30am in their first game of the Four Nations tournament. Women’s rugby in this country really needs support, so I encourage all of you to show interest (and if you have the chance, you can live stream the game here).

    I also wanted to congratulate the six players who will make their debut – Evelyn Horomia, Victoria Latu, Fenella Hake, Kayla Sauvao, Ashleigh Timoko, and Huia Swannell. Enjoy every moment.

    The Australian Wallaroos have named their side to face the New Zealand Black Ferns.

    Cricket
    In rugby league we have the Australian Kangaroos and the Australian Jillaroos. In football we have the Caltex Socceroos and the Westfield Matildas. In rugby union we have the Australian Wallabies and the Australian Wallaroos.

    In cricket we now have the Australian men’s cricket team and the Australian women’s cricket team after an announcement was made this week to change the naming convention for the women’s side.

    The Australian women’s cricket team will no longer be formally known as the Southern Stars and will be referred to in exactly the same way as the men’s team.

    I found the reaction to this interesting. Some cried political agendas. Some cried political correctness gone mad. Some said it didn’t matter.

    This absolutely matters and it makes absolute sense.

    Women’s cricket has come a long way in the last couple of years – boosted by the success of the Women’s Big Bash League, the professionalisation of the NSW Breakers and the success of the Southern Stars at an international level. It’s time to reflect this improvement in professionalism and have consistency when it comes to names.

    Why should the women’s cricket team be referred to by their nickname and the men’s team have no nickname at all. It does not make sense.

    Do not underestimate the power of words and the importance of ensuring that our sports use language that makes them gender neutral and welcoming to all.

    The Australian women’s cricket team will have the opportunity to show off their new name when they depart for the United Kingdom on Saturday for the Women’s World Cup.

    For those of you longing for sunshine and summer, watching cricket is the next best thing and the Australian women’s cricket team will have their first game against the West Indies on June 26.

    This Women’s World Cup will see them looking to claim their seventh world title (after having won six out of the first ten tournaments).

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (36)

    • June 9th 2017 @ 8:44am
      McNaulty said | June 9th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      I think the Australian cricket team should just be called the Australian Test team like it is now (or One day team).
      Mainly so that women can play in it if they are good enough. If women start playing cricket in the same numbers that men do I don’t see any reasons why a women couldn’t open the batting for Australia.

      • June 9th 2017 @ 10:02am
        northerner said | June 9th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

        I believe women do open the batting for Australia. The women’s team is every bit as representative of this country as the men’s team.

        • June 9th 2017 @ 12:06pm
          McNaulty said | June 9th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          Don’t think of it as the “mens team” think of it as the opens team.
          If a woman dominates Sydney grade cricket and gets picked for the NSW shield team it should be open to her to get picked in which ever Australian Test team she wants. She shouldn’t be forced to play for one gendered team or the other which I think would be the case if we call it the Australian Mens Test Team.

          • June 9th 2017 @ 2:10pm
            northerner said | June 9th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

            Oh, but I would think of it as the men’s team, not the “open” team. We both know that women players may well be as skillful as men, but are most unlikely to be as strong or as fast. So your “open” team would in fact be closed to women. And with the open team designed to exclude half the population, well, there’d be no national representative team at all, would there? I’d much rather have two national teams representing Australia between them, than your single team representing the Y chromosome.

            • June 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm
              McNaulty said | June 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

              We aren’t talking about the football codes here…or even tennis. In cricket (particularly batting but also slow bowling) skill and concentration are way more important than strength and speed.
              With women taking it up in greater number why don’t we wait and see?
              I’d like the “mens” team to remain open to women.

              • June 10th 2017 @ 7:06am
                Realist said | June 10th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

                I’m happy for the women to have their own teams – so long as they are not taking vital funding generated by the men’s teams.
                The women’s game is about participation – however it is not something I would encourage my daughter to choose. Touch footy is a great game for women but tackle imo is inappropriate

              • June 10th 2017 @ 10:47am
                northerner said | June 10th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

                And here I thought hitting sixes would be easier if you had bigger muscles, and running between wickets would be quicker if you could, you know, run faster. Boxing, judo and karate are all about skill, but they don’t make the featherweights fight the heavyweights, now do they?

              • Columnist

                June 11th 2017 @ 7:45am
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 11th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

                I’m beyond lost in this whole thread.

                Is the idea that we have one national side open to men and women to be selected?

      • Columnist

        June 9th 2017 @ 10:22am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 9th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        I have no idea what you are talking about…

        • June 9th 2017 @ 2:09pm
          AndyS said | June 9th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

          I think what he is saying is one national team, no gender break. I suppose the argument would go that it is ultimately what true gender equality would look like, and what is pushed for in other areas of endeavour.

          • June 9th 2017 @ 5:07pm
            McNaulty said | June 9th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

            No. I am saying I would love to see a woman playing with men in a Shield or Test team.

    • June 9th 2017 @ 9:04am
      Cato said | June 9th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      Why is everyone so surprised??

      The Strategic Plan released by the ARU with all its beautifully coloured graphs and charts showed that they have no intention whatsoever in expanding 15 A Side Rugby in any Format in the foreseeable future.
      The ARU are obsessed with 7″ and Viva and in fact almost anything but 15 a side Rugby.
      They have totally forgotten why they exist in the first place. They are turning into an organisation like FIFA or Formula 1, travelling to Paris Business Class, enjoying fine wines, being payed exorbitant salaries whilst at the same time slowly destroying Grass Roots Rugby like a Cancer.
      They want to turn the game we love into a no contact version of “keepings off” so that they can boost participation numbers and live the High Life.
      How can Directors like Eels and McLean allow this to happen?
      Women’s 15 a side Rugby is just as important as 7’s, but you would not think so, judging by the ARU Strategic Planning Doc.

      • Roar Guru

        June 9th 2017 @ 10:29am
        Adam said | June 9th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        I think you’re pretty right in this regard. The 15 man game is hardly being grown in any department so complaining that women’s rugby is being ignored is a little misleading.
        I’m also not sure how women’s sport can be grown through these tactics as it is essentially forcing organisations to grow women’s sports competitions artificially without any view of sustainability. I think the Super Netball is the perfect example of how to grow a sport competition, it built a fan base for the game first through participation and then created a professional league, not the other way around.

        • Columnist

          June 11th 2017 @ 7:49am
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 11th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

          Millions of dollars is being pumped into 7’s. It’s not the case for XV (and when you compare how much money is being put into the Wallabies versus the Wallaroos it’s astonishing).

          You can’t be what you can’t see and until women’s XV is promoted and pushed in the same way 7’s is, you won’t have little girls growing up thinking that they can play XVs if they want to.

      • June 10th 2017 @ 2:24pm
        Justin Kearney said | June 10th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

        Dead right cato. The aru sees womens sevens as a quick fix. It isnt.

        • Columnist

          June 11th 2017 @ 7:48am
          Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 11th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

          Absolutely not.

          In an ideal world both versions of the game would thrive and people would have the opportunity to play VX or seven’s.

          • June 11th 2017 @ 8:00am
            Justin Kearney said | June 11th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

            I agree but the worry is the ARU is not promoting 15s only 7s for women. Its an easy fix. It should be promoting 15s with 7s as a byproduct. I watched a women’s league on the gold coast recently and it was a beauty. 13 a side. 15s rugby and 13s league are the real deal and women should be offered the opportunity to participate in the more credible versions of both games.

      • Columnist

        June 11th 2017 @ 7:47am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 11th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

        And how sad is that, Cato.

        I thought about this some more. Query whether Buildcorp would have kept their sponsorship had the ARU demonstrated some planning or some future intent to include a women’s NRC? To date, it just doesn’t seem that the XV product is being taken as seriously.

        The Wallaroos got beaten 53-10 on Friday, a completely unsurprising result when you consider that England has over 400 caps and the Wallroos have less than 100.

    • Roar Guru

      June 9th 2017 @ 9:09am
      mds1970 said | June 9th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      There’s some good stuff happening in womens’ sport.

      Another great ongoing story is the Super Netball, which continues to go from strength to strength. I was at the Semi-Final at the State Sports Centre last Saturday (got there at quarter time after the footy). Giants Netball fell as far as six goals behind during the last quarter, but fought back to steal the game by a point in the final second; keeping their season alive and ending Collingwood’s season.
      A near full house was really getting into the game, and it’s great to see the level of support that they’re generating.

      I’ve changed my flights for this weekend, after originally just planning a fly-in fly-out day trip for Giants v Carlton on Sunday. I’m now flying down to Melbourne tomorrow to catch the Super Netball Prelim final and hoping the Giants can get through; but it won’t be easy at Hisense against Melbourne Vixens.

    • June 9th 2017 @ 9:47am
      kaiviti said | June 9th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

      Please allow me to reiterate a comment that I made regarding an article that Spiro Zavos wrote in yesterday Roar.
      “kaiviti said | June 8th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

      Well written articel.
      One question, how many fathers take their young children to sporting events, whether it be rugby, soccer or
      netball ? Not that many I would say.
      So if the ARU are genuinly interested in growing rugby at the grass roots, have another think about sponsoring womens rugby, because young women ruggers go on to become young mothers who in turn pass on the love of the sport to their children.

      Re

      • June 9th 2017 @ 10:55am
        Treetops said | June 9th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        What a ridiculous statement you make Kaiviti, when you ask, and then ignorantly answer the question “how many fathers take their young children to sporting events, whether it be rugby, soccer or netball ? Not that many I would say”. People like you don’t deserve to make a public comment.

        With a comment like that, I can only assume you live, or you did live,in a family where the father of the house didn’t or doesn’t, take his children to sporting events. I almost feel sorry for you.

        Trust me, thousands of fathers take their children to sporting events every week. Its people like you who keep the sexist debate alive for all the wrong reasons.

        And by the way, I am thrilled to be seeing womens sport on the up and up.

        • Roar Pro

          June 9th 2017 @ 2:10pm
          Clash said | June 9th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

          Have a feeling that you’ve either completely misconstrued kaivitis comment or are trying to start a fight. Let’s pick up the negatives, screw the positives which is an unfortunate element with some folk on forums. Read Kavaiti’s statement again before flying off the handle.

          It wasn’t a very well worded comment from him/her but the last paragraph should tip you off that this person is agreeing that the ARU need to do more to help women’s rugby.

          I do notice all the time that netball is on free to air while rugby is pay tv which is probably why netball is so popular.

    • Roar Guru

      June 9th 2017 @ 11:06am
      Scott Pryde said | June 9th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      I don’t quite understand the logic behind scrapping the Southern Stars name. I get that it’s putting it on par with the men’s team – fair enough… But they are known as the Southern Stars to anyone who follows the women’s game, and like it or not, they are still going to be addressed in that manner.

      The Australian men’s cricket team is the only national team I can come up with that doesn’t have some sort of nickname to it… So changing the Southern Stars to the Australian Women’s Cricket Team just doesn’t make sense to be from a logical, or marketing standpoint.

      • Roar Guru

        June 9th 2017 @ 12:29pm
        mds1970 said | June 9th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        I tend to agree with that. It’s a recognisable brand name; and even if they don’t use it officially, it’ll still be widely used.

      • Columnist

        June 9th 2017 @ 12:48pm
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | June 9th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        So Scott, they aren’t scrapping it technically. The team will be formally known as the Australian Women’s Cricket team – key word formally. Colloquially they will still be referred to as the Southern Stars and based on my understanding social media accounts etc will not be changed.

    • Roar Guru

      June 9th 2017 @ 1:21pm
      Train Without A Station said | June 9th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      It absolutely makes commercial sense alone to look to widen focus to women’s sport.

      That’s 50% of the population.

      The ARU have made the right move here though.

      The women’s game is hardly at a point where it needs the NRC level of competition (It would be looking to condense less than 40 total teams into 8) and the ARU is not in any position to fund this when the Buildcorp sponsorship they lost is around $200k.

      Buildcorp do a great deal for Australian rugby, but I think there’s more than meets the eye on this one.

      • June 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm
        rock said | June 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        Most definitely more to it, just have a look at the article written by Roy Masters today – where there’s smoke, there’s fire………

        • June 10th 2017 @ 9:13am
          Rhys Bosley said | June 10th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          Oh well, initially I thought the withdrawal of NRC sponsorship because there isn’t a women’s comp was a bit churlish and unrealistic, but if Master’s article is anything to go by it could turn out to be a good thing. Pip Marlow and Josephine Sukkar are both accomplished businesswomen and would understand that healthy elite men’s rugby is at least for the short to medium term the moneymaker which makes all other ARU activities possible.

          I can’t imagine that such people would kill the goose that lays the golden egg in trying to grow the women’s game, even if the NRC decision has that feel to it on face value. Perhaps giving them a go at running the show wouldn’t be a bad thing, it might snap the ARU out of the groupthink that has lead to the current mess in Aussie rugby.

          I just hope that their commitment to universal opportunities to participate in elite rugby extends to Western Australia.

      • June 9th 2017 @ 1:58pm
        concerned supporter said | June 9th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        TWAS,
        You know that I have lambasted the ARU mainly for its inertia and bumbling.
        But if Buildcorp’s sponsorship $’s was as you say AUD $200,000, then this is less than 1% of the ARU’s 2016 total Sponsorship Income of AUD $27,741,000.
        Do you know how much the sponsorship of BMW & Lion Nathan was worth?

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