SCC Rugby Academy offers a Girls' Contact group but girls have been playing rugby for way longer, we ask Coach Ishraf for the lowdown on girl ruggers…
Here at HoneyKids, we’re all about raising our kids to understand they can do anything they want and grow up to be anything they want to be. Gender stereotyping, be gone: soccer’s definitely not just for boys and girls can do anything boys can do – especially play rugby!
Before starting a dedicated girls’ contact group, SCC Rugby Academy already had girls playing rugby alongside boys. The Girls’ Contact group was then started for girls who just want to play with other girls or older girls who are no longer allowed to play in mixed teams.
What girls at SCC Rugby Academy have to say:
Anna says, “I like to play girls’ rugby because it shows girls are just as tough as boys.”
Armanda says, “For me, it is all about the team spirit in rugby and uniting with the other girls. I like the energy, the fun and the mud too.”
Nicolette says, “I like contact rugby as it keeps me fit and fosters camaraderie. It’s also lots of fun and makes me feel confident about myself.”
Coach Ishraf is the lead coach of SCC Rugby Academy’s dedicated Girls’ Contact group. As team captain of Singapore’s national Rugby Sevens, Coach Ishraf has played for Singapore’s national Rugby 15s and SCC Prems and has been coaching rugby in Singapore for around ten years. We spoke with Coach Ishraf about SCC Rugby Academy’s Girls’ Contact group and why girls should play rugby.
Why should girls play rugby?
Contact rugby involves discipline, in attack and in defence. You also need footwork, endurance and good hand-eye coordination, all of which comes with practice. Discipline is also very important as what you do off the field very much affects your performance and your game the next day. The great thing about rugby is that there is a position for everyone in the team – 15, in fact! Anyone can score a try in rugby and everyone plays a position that lends itself to each player’s ability and physical attributes. These positions are the same for boys and girls.
Is rugby too rough for girls?
Parents often worry their daughter may get injured, but the rules of rugby are the same for girls and boys, as governed by World Rugby guidelines. All players under the age of eight play non-contact rugby and are taught to “tackle” by touching other players on the waist. In addition, Coach Ishraf says that when you are tackled in rugby, you are braced for impact – whereas in football you can get attacked from all sides and you don’t see when someone’s coming. From the start, beginners are taught safety tips like how to fall and tackle. More high-contact moves like scrums (or huddling together to get the ball) and lineouts (restarting the ball after it’s gone into “touch”) are slowly introduced to players as they get older.
When can girls start playing rugby?
At SCC Rugby Academy, girls can start playing at any age. There are groups for under four years old to under-17s. When girls are younger they may want to train in mixed groups and can play in matches, tournaments and the junior league. Under World Rugby guidelines, a female player can actually play down an age group and still play in a mixed contact rugby team until under 12. However, after this age, a female player must then play in a single-sex team. It is therefore really up to the individual player whether she wants to play in a mixed team until a certain age or train in a dedicated girls’ contact group. SCC also has an arrangement with other rugby clubs in Singapore for all female players who want to play contact rugby to come and train at any club as long as they are registered with one of them.
Getting in the game
Girls’ contact teams regularly compete in all the major tournaments in Singapore such as the SCC Academy 7s, which takes place on the historic Padang in front of the Singapore Cricket Club every October or November. Most Singapore rugby clubs have a friendly arrangement for girls in U10 to U18 age groups to form part of The Valkyries. The Valkryies have toured in Hong Kong competing in the All-Girls International Rugby 7s, which is the world’s largest girls’ rugby tournament, as well as Cambodia and Bali. Girls’ teams have also had the opportunity to play in exhibition matches at the National Stadium during the HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s. International schools in Singapore are also starting to offer girls’ contact rugby.
And the game isn’t just growing in Singapore. According to World Rugby, there has been a 60 percent increase in participation since 2013. It’s estimated that by 2026, 40 percent of the total number of players will be female. There’s never been a better time to touch down!
SCC Rugby Academy’s Girls’ Contact Rugby runs every Saturday at 9.15am during term time at SCC Dempsey Ground, 71G Loewen Road, Singapore 248846; open to members and non-members.