“Bravery Is The Biggest Challenge To Women’s Rugby.” | The Women’s Rugby Pod
“Bravery Is The Biggest Challenge To Women’s Rugby.” | The Women’s Rugby Pod
The Women's Rugby Pod is the world’s first & only global women’s rugby union podcast. The podcast speaks to the biggest names in the game every week covering news, views & opinions on the women’s game around the world. We spoke to hosts, Rachael Burford & Johnnie Hammond, about the podcast’s importance & popularity, the growth of women’s rugby & their exciting plans for the future.
Why did you launch the Women’s Rugby Pod?
We were sick of there only being podcasts about men’s rugby. Seriously, women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world. A huge 29% of all rugby players are now women. Since being announced as an Olympic sport in 2009, global participation has gone from 200,000 to 2.6 million. Surprise then that no podcast is out there to reflect that…………..until now!!! The aim of the WRP is to promote the women’s game and expose it to new audiences. We want to excite women, men, girls and boys about this amazing game of ours; which is at such a critical phase of its development.
Why has it become so popular?
There is certainly the demand for the pod, as we are finding out. But we truly believe the quality of the product, week in week out is very good. Top class guests from all nations, up to date news and debates; plus exploring lesser known rugby nations who are just starting out on their journeys. We like to think we, as hosts, have a great rapport. We are fortunate to have the relationships we do with most of our guests; that there is a an ease and familiarity to the pod. This always gets the best out of the guests too!
Who is the most inspiring rugby player you’ve interviewed to date?
That is a really tough question, we have had so many guests that inspire in very different ways. From Heather Fisher and her journey alongside professional rugby. But, of late, we have toured around the world discovering countries that are new to rugby and fall outside of the known and traditional rugby nations. From Malaysia, Ana Farahanaaziz and her story of being a part of the first women’s club and international teams. Nahid BirBiyarjomandi, Head of the Development Committee (for Women’s Rugby) in Iran, having driven rugby from basically nothing to where it is now. But Sarah Abd Elbaki, Head of Women’s Rugby in Syria, also one of the men’s national team coaches and the first Asian female referee was truly uplifting, amongst the backdrop of war in her country. True, humbling stories.
What sort of audience are you attracting?
Around 27,000 and increasing by around 1,000 a week. 70% of listeners aged 18-27, 65% of listeners are female. Our combined social media following is around 60,000. So we have a growing, thriving and increasingly influential audience across multiple channels.
What sort of sponsor/s are you looking for on the podcast?
It would great to have one of the big hitters that have involved themselves in rugby (men’s!) already. Simply to show that the women’s game is on an equal footing. HSBC, Investec, Guinness, Canterbury, Natwest, Gallagher, Allianz, Adidas, Nike, Quilter, Land Rover, Mini, Pol Roger!
What are your future plans for the Women’s Rugby Pod?
We have only just scratched the surface with the pod really, having just finished our 43rd consecutive week; airing 52 podcasts including 76 guests. There are plans to have a website, which could be a central hub for women’s rugby. A Facebook page, a YouTube channel, more live events after the success of our inaugural live pod (supported by Fullers). Instagram lives, panel discussions live or recorded. All these in the run up to the Olympics and World Cup would great a tremendous buzz. There has also been the idea of widening out to other sports; so The Women’s Football Pod, The Women’s Netball Pod, Rowing, Cycling, Cricket the list goes on……
What do you see as the biggest challenges for women’s rugby in the UK and globally moving forward?
Bravery! And by that I mean broadcasters, journalists, administrators and investors putting women’s rugby on a level footing to the men’s game; why shouldn’t it be? The repost is an obvious one but there is no doubt, the statistics tell us, that women’s rugby is on a step upward curve, whereas men’s is in the opposite direction. Once Sky Sports took the plunge to televise club rugby (knowing the return would be minimal if anything) and for that matter European rugby and look at the growth. Girls and women’s have to see it to be it.
Other countries have equal pay in their national sports teams. When will it come to rugby union?
It can’t be reality until the women’s game starts generating an income…. but we need sponsors, broadcasters to get behind the game first… build it and they will come!
What is the most supportive brand involved in women’s rugby today?
New Zealand has women-only sponsors involved across various sectors. But there is literally nothing here in the UK, nothing! Tyrrells was involved in the Premier XV with a very different agenda to supporting the women’s game.
Who is going to win the Women’s RWC in 2021?
New Zealand. Just joking…. well…. England or New Zealand – France will push these both though!
“Women’s Rugby Pod – an amazing addition to the podcast world this year! They bring you everything from the world of women’s rugby be it on field, off field, current or past that any rugby fan could ask for! Johnnie and Rachael are fantastic hosts and have a brilliant way of interacting with their guest to bring their stories to life. I feel very honoured to have been on the show and look forward to seeing what and who they have lined up for next season!” Sarah Hunter, England Rugby Captain 2020
“I love this podcast! A real must for anyone who is interested in women’s rugby. Current, engaging, informative and entertaining. Covers all areas of women’s rugby across the globe. Great work and thanks Jonny and Burf.” Liza Burgess, former Wales captain, Barbarians coach and first female ember of the WRU Executive Committee “What a brilliant listen. I’ve enjoyed every episode, learnt lots about the Women’s game and loved the mini series with legends of the game. Johnnie is such a great host and Burf is so in touch with the current game and players; it’s a delight. Thank you 5🌟pod♥️.” Gill Burns MBE, Former England captain and World Cup winner “Lifting the profile of women in rugby is critical to stimulating new fans, players and investors in the game. The Women’s Rugby Pod is fantastic, informative, entertaining and inspiring programme. Johnnie and Rachael’s commitment to bringing such a variety of extraordinary stories covering global leaders and their wisdom and commentary on current on field performance is exceptional. Continuously forging a growing audience of passionate engaged fans and players… The Women’s Rugby Pod is simply made of great stuff! Two talented professionals making a big difference to women’s rugby. Thanks”. Katie Sadlier, GM Women’s Rugby at World Rugby. “I love listening to the women’s rugby pod because it is one of the only podcasts that actually interview female players. They give great insight into the people who play our game throwing around some great banter too. One of my favourite listens 😊.” Sarah Hirini (Goss) New Zealand 7s captain and World Cup winner
To listen to the brilliant Women’s Rugby Pod click below…
The Women’s Rugby Podcast Dream Team
Rachael Burford has won 79 caps for England, competing in 4 World Cups, including victory in 2014. She is the first female on the Rugby Players Association, Burf is also on the International Rugby Players Association.
Johnnie Hammond has been the voice of Womens rugby for over a decade. Commentating on virtually every club and international game in England, in that time. From inaugural league and Premier XV’s finals to the World Cup Final of 2014. Johnnie is regarded as one of the driving forces for the game within the media.
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