History of Women's Rugby in Australia
Rugby was first played by women in the country towns of Tamworth and Armidale during the late 1930s. However, the second world war halted play as women were required to work on the land.
In 1991, then Newcastle Rugby Union Executive Director Wal Fitzgerald revived women's rugby, establishing competitions of sever a side and touch. However, the 15 a side game remained very much on the agenda.
A year later, the Australian Club Championship was staged in Newcastle with five teams. In the two years to follow, fourteen clubs from the Northern Territory, North Queensland, Brisbane and the ACT were to become valuable members of the competition.
The championship has since been succeeded by a state versus state competition, with Queensland proving the dominant force.
The establishment of the Australian Women's Rugby Union in 1993, with Joan Forno as its president, led to the first Test being played by the Wallaroos against the New Zealand national women's team.
The rivalry that now exists between the two is comparable to that of the Wallabies and the All Blacks vying for the coveted Bledisloe Cup. Although the All Black women have held the upper hand in the five encounters to date, the Wallaroos have proved gallant in defeat on every occasion.
In 1997, the Wallaroos also played their first Test against former World Cup victors and 1994 runners up, the United States. In a match which demonstrated the Wallaroos' potential, the Australians rattled the Americans with four spectacular tries to the visitors' three. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the boot proved the difference and the Wallaroos went down narrowly, 24-28.
In 1996, the Wallaroos travelled to Amsterdam for their first World Cup where they played their first and only match against England, with the experienced English side winning 30-13. The wallaroos went on to win the Plate Final against Scotland to finish fifth in the tournament.
Today, women's participation across the country has grown to over 1,800 and the sport is being played by girls in over 200 schools.
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