Label volunteer writer Leah Langley discusses England’s recent victory in the Women’s Rugby Six Nations and the progression of media representation for the women’s game.
The last ten years have seen the Women’s Six Nations completely transformed. The competition is now entering its fourth decade and there is no denying that this is set to be the best decade the sport has seen.
Back in 2010, England and France were the only two winners of the Six Nation with England maintaining their winning streak for the fifth year in a row. There was also an expansion in media coverage which saw the Women’s Six Nations opened up to brand new audiences. 2011 saw England retain a sixth consecutive Six Nations title and the Grand Slam before they claimed a seventh win in 2012 with their third consecutive Gran Slam. 2013 was a huge year in Women’s Six Nations as England’s seven-year hold was broken as Ireland joined England and France to become only the third winners of the title. Ireland claimed their win with a Grand Slam during a decider against Italy, with the match being the first ever women’s rugby international to be broadcast on Irish television. In 2014, France reclaimed the title with a Grand Slam win. The end of the year saw the first ever women being inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame with three of the six inductees representing the Six Nations. The 2015 winner was decided on points difference, with Ireland claiming the title and the Triple Crown.
2016 was no different when it came to the growth of women’s rugby as it was the first year that all games were broadcast on television and live streamed. Match day attendances also saw new records being broken as France v. Ireland saw the French stadium host a record Women’s Six Nations crowd of 11,700. The final match between France and England also saw a sell-out crowd of almost 10,000 at Twickenham, with France taking the title. In 2017, the Women’s Six Nations Championship drew in record live TV and streaming audiences with over 7.5 million viewers, and all 15 matches of the Championship were broadcast in 175 countries worldwide, which ultimately saw England claim the title once more. France won the title back with a Grand Slam in 2018. 2019 saw England beating Scotland in an effortless 80-0 victory to claim their win.
This year was a little different for the Championship as the pandemic caused a bit of a bump in the general running of the matches and many had to be postponed. The English team were already champions after four games, but they were determined to remain unbeaten. Match one had seen them beat France 19-13, whilst match two saw them beat Scotland 52-0. Match three saw Ireland being beat 27-0 and match four saw them Wales being beat 66-7. Their fifth, and final match was finally played on Sunday November 1st and it saw England claim a second successive Grand Slam after beating Italy 54-0 with an eight-try win.
The evolution of the Championships has seen more audiences than ever tuning in each year and the attraction seems to be growing with each year that passes. It’s clear that it still has some catching up to do when compared to the men’s coverage, but it is certainly well on the way to doing this.