Australian Rugby League lose to Kiwis but, win in Sports Equality
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 12: Australian Jillaroos captain Ali Brigginshaw and Australian Kangaroos captain Boyd Cordner during a media opportunity at Mt Smart Stadium on October 12, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The big shock of the Australian men’s Kangaroos team losing to the Kiwis was the one downside to this weekends triple-header. But the true positive is how Australian Rugby League is winning, in terms of Sports Equality.

That positive has been observed in how the women’s team that was a part of the group that traveled to New Zealand. Not a separate entity, but how the Australian Rugby League organization embraced the concept of ‘all for one, and one for all’.

The women were wholly included in the pre and post-travel preparations before this weekend’s International test matches; where the Junior Roos, Jillaroos (women) and the senior Kangaroos teams competed in the Trans Tasman fixture at Mt Smart Stadium.

Sports equality, in that the women were incorporated into all aspects of the schedule, in ways that will demonstrate how the parity between the sexes is crossing over sports – from Australian rugby league, to Cricket, Olympic and professional competitions, to the benefit of every code. And to the benefit of all sports fans.

Australian Rugby League lose to Kiwis but, win in Sports Equality

Equity in sport has been a long time coming. For years, the case for a women’s and men’s sporting fixture could be hard to make. So where the costs used to be used as prohibitive to the inclusion of more than one team – today, the Aussies are leading the trend in sports equality.

By scheduling all three teams to play, the fixture was an inventive way to show how three grades of rugby league could be packaged together. It meant an opening game that included the Junior Kiwis v Junior Roos.

That was followed by the Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos (Australian women) before the feature clash, of the Kiwis v Kangaroos. A huge night, and even with the mix of results, the positive news is one for each nation to learn from.

On the Field; Kiwis upset the Australian Rugby League Team

When recent fixtures like the ANZAC test were played, the huge let-down of defeat took away from any other aspect of the occasion. So April was primarily a loss to the Kiwis, but a huge disappointment for Kiwi league fans – but that was a single fixture. No curtain-raiser or future-driven schedule to benefit either nation was afforded them.

On Saturday night though, the planners should be congratulated. Three matches gave the 12,000 fans a full afternoon of entertainment. Wins from the local men’s side will have ensured fans left satisfied, but it was the teams involved whom should all be encouraged by the provisions.

Those were for the visitors, as much as for the hosts. The latter will have certainly been the more comfortable; playing at home, yet it seems from reports that the visitors had a unified approach that can be applauded for its inclusive nature, as well as leading Sports Equality for women and men.

Joint approach from ARU should be a trendsetter

With the admission of Jillaroos skipper Heather Ballinger that the organization of 2016 is much improved from years before, it is only half of the story. That is because Australian rugby league – as well as many leading sports – acknowledge that women now play a much larger part in the game.

That is in participation; where growth in women playing rugby league is evidence for increased investment – see the Women’s Premiership in 2018. And that is reinforced by moves at the corporate level, where representation has seen improved values and coordinated efforts to embolden women. On the field, the part that women play is as important as the men’s role.

Considering that the women won their contest 24-26, that reinforces the importance of their place in the sport. Now in an equal position, that was exhibited in 2017 when the women’s final proceeded the men’s final of the Rugby League World Cup.

At that time it seriously benefitted the game, and now, it is an even more important barometer of the game. Equal billing; the women’s fixture on the same day as the men – and gaining a whole new audience from the television coverage.

Although in sporting equality terms, the example here is how the women were able to have the same accommodation, facilities, nutrition, conditioning, and environment. Even while the remuneration was inequitable, all of the other investment made by the ARU brought the three teams closer together.

And it is in that fact, where Australian Rugby League can be idealized. One that New Zealand Rugby, football, cricket, and combined sports; like the Olympics, can be proud of. Placing women beside the men – not in the corner.

And considering the results, the women will now stand front and center for a long time to come.

 

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