Rugby is for the boys.
Ever given a few fun facts at a braai about rugby? Try it, the side-eyes and reactions you get is quite entertaining. There was a 'hilarious' message that circulated on social media laying down the rules for women while the men are watching rugby "Don't bother us, bring the beer and snacks, keep quiet while we watch" - HAVE WE GONE NOWHERE WITH DEFEATING SEXISM AND MISOGYNY? This upset me to the point where I wanted to write an entire blog about it. So I did.
I was about one year old when we won the 1995 World Cup and although I was probably taking a nap at that time, years later I understood and appreciated what rugby has done for our country, and is still doing! The thing is, rugby for me isn't just about Googling fun facts and memorising them. It is about actually loving the game. I grew up in a house where everything came to a halt when it was rugby time, even the dog had his jersey on. From my brother's rugby games, the Currie Cup and Super Rugby, to the Springboks. My grandfather used to tell us all about his greatest rugby moments, and even though the game put some strain on his knees and hips when he got older, he could never stop loving it.
I am, however, often met with aversion when participating in 'ball chat'. You get that kind of "what do you know" feels. Yes, obviously playing the game increases your knowledge and expertise, but you know what, everyone always seems to comment on and participate in conversations about things they haven't necessarily studied or areas they worked in, and that's okay. It's like saying you cannot like Formula 1 or know the ins and outs of it - because you've never driven a Formula 1 car before! My point is, I don't have to make the Springbok squad to know the rules, understand the game, know the players and partake in conversations about who they should've played instead and what they did well in the game.
Women face many stigmas in their everyday lives, almost to the point where it has become normal - and I personally believe a lot of it happens in the world of sport. If you like rugby or would want to play rugby, you might not be considered very feminine - the same goes for cricket. I distinctly remember having words with some guys once regarding comments they made because one of the line referees was a woman. No one will be able to convince me that ANY female referee is worse than Jerome Garces! Take also the infamous tennis match of Serena Williams against Naomi Osaka - world wide criticism erupted because Serena lost it on court. After being trolled on social media and attacked in the press for months because she had a baby and is not in the best physical shape and she tried an alternative tennis outfit for the tournament - she lost it because she believed the umpire unfairly penalised her, and was probably just tired of taking shots from every possible angle. Could she have handled the situation better? Probably. The again, should John Mcenroe and Lleyton Hewitt also have been criticized for their short tempers? Definitely! Women get loud and frustrated and we act out of line. Men throw around fists and it's funny - 'boys will be boys'.
To get back to my point. There should be absolutely NO stigmas saying that women should not get anywhere near 'a man's sport'. I love this sport, and although my Superbru predictions aren't too great at the moment, I was probably the most excited person about this Rugby World Cup. I have even made it my goal to be a presenter for Supersport at the next World Cup in France in 2023! We have a strong team, and with SA backing our boys - MEN AND WOMEN - they are definitely bringing home that Webb Ellis Cup!