• Taylor Mapusua of the Queensland Reds, part of the QRU's They Said campaign to celebrate women's rugby (QRU)Source: QRU
Earlier this month, Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) launched the "They Said" campaign to celebrate women in rugby and to smash the stereotype that rugby is a man's sport.
By
Rachel de Bear

18 Mar 2016 - 8:00 AM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2016 - 8:00 AM

As sports people, us women have heard it all before.  

"You can't run as fast."  

"You can't play rugby."

"This is a man's sport." 

These stereotypes are what the QRU aims to smash with its They Said campaign, launched earlier this month. 

Australian women's rugby sevens captain, Shannon Parry believes the campaign will help bring their game into the spotlight. 

“When I first got into rugby there definitely were stereotypes which dominated the sport. 

"Women playing rugby was seen as socially unacceptable. But I believe these stereotypes are slowly being replaced through performances by this generation," Parry said. 

“I think a lot of people will be surprised with how fit and athletic the women are that play rugby. It will open the public's eye in regards to women’s rugby and will show that women can play a male dominated sport and play it well. I feel this is going to be a very successful campaign," she said.  

Parry also said there are now so many pathways for women and girls to get into rugby.

“They now have school programs which encourage girls to play the sport which is amazing to see. The hard work and support from the Australian Rugby Union, Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) and and QRU to get these programs out there is helping to provide the next generation of athletes," she said. 

This effort has resulted in some impressive participation numbers for QRU.  

From 2011 to 2015, women’s participation in rugby in Queensland increased from 32,800 to over 125,000.

“There definitely is a long way to go but the pathway has started and hopefully in the next 10 years or so girls will want to play Rugby over sports like netball or hockey," Parry said. 

This weekend, the campaign forms part of the "Ladies Round" for the Reds' Super Rugby clash against the Auckland Blues on Saturday night. At half-time, the QAS Women's Sevens Squad will play an inter-squad game.

Ladies rounds in male dominated football codes are usually about celebrating women's behind the scenes involvement in the sport. Out come pics of male players and their mums; a specially designed jersey with pink on it; or complementary white wine for the women fans. 

Not in and of themselves bad things. Women administrators, volunteers and family deserve recognition. However, it can help perpetuate the myth that behind the scenes is the correct and only place for women to be in male dominated sports. Not out on the paddock playing in front of a crowd. 

But this Queensland Reds campaign pushes women's rugby to the forefront on a day not normally reserved for women players. 

Demi Hayes, a QAS and development player with the Australian Women’s squad, said she just wants a shot at showing everyone what they've got. 

“I just want them to get more interested in watching women’s rugby because it is really exciting, there is so much talent. 

"It will be interesting to see and hear people’s reaction to the campaign," Hayes said. 

Tickets to the Ladies Round game of the Super Rugby Reds v Blues game at Suncorp Stadium, on Saturday, 19 March (kick off 6.45pm) can be purchased on line at Ticketek