Rugby for ladies and gentlemen

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Sport is the great unifier, riveting entertainment and excellent for health reasons. We need more of it and need to overcome any old-fashioned obstacles to women playing in, or going to see, whatever sport they wish.

One of the best changes in recent years is how football has made women and families more welcome at their matches.

Let’s do the same for women on the field and on the terraces in rugby.

In the Commons this week I met the recently crowned world champions in the Women’s Rugby World Cup.Their vice-captain, Sarah Hunter, who is also from North Tyneside, enthusiastically outlined their plans to encourage more women and girls to follow in their footsteps.

England beat Canada in the final in Paris this month in the best attended and highest profile World Cup to date.

The tournament and England’s stunning victory has widely been seen as a game-changer for women’s rugby.

The RFU has launched a nation-wide strategy to encourage 100,000 women and girls to get involved in rugby.

It is seeking to capitalise on the enthusiastic support England received during the tournament and ensure that rugby clubs throughout the country are ready and able to receive a new generation of females inspired by the triumphs of England.

The old quip is that rugby is either a thug’s game played by gentlemen or the other way round. I hope that more get the message that rugby is for ladies and gentlemen.