The Ireland women’s rugby team is swapping its traditional white shorts for navy, in a home nations first led by Canterbury of New Zealand and the IRFU in response to players’ feedback about period anxieties.
As part of the shift, teams and players who have previously purchased white women’s shorts from Canterbury can trade them in for a different colour. This opportunity is open for players at all levels who have bought the shorts on canterbury.com or through its teamwear platform in the last three years.
The shorts will be worn by Ireland captain Nichola Fryday for the first time at the TikTok Women’s Six Nations launch on 14th March, then by the Ireland team for the duration of the tournament, which kicks off on the 25th March. Ireland International, Enya Breen, says: “The top way to ensure we perform to our best on the field is by removing any unnecessary distractions. Wearing navy shorts instead of white is such a small thing, but for us it’s a big step from Canterbury and the IRFU. This will remove the stress of worrying about being on your period while you’re playing in a match. Our hope is that it will help women at all levels of rugby feel more comfortable on the field so they can get on with performing at their best in the game that they love.”
Changing the game
This is just one of a number of Canterbury initiatives to further the grassroots game. Its Give It A Try initiative with the IRFU has encouraged thousands of girls to take up rugby and its Future Fund grant, which focuses on creating equity for women in the sport, has supported UK players with kit, coaching and funding in its first year.
Victoria Rush, director of the film No Women No Try, shared her thoughts around the move: “As women we are given a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t play rugby, before we’ve even started. This decision by Canterbury and the IRFU is a first step in a much more important conversation about choice for women in sport. It shows how brands, clubs and governing bodies can make sure that every woman on the pitch feels comfortable, heard and respected. Here’s to many more decisions like this that make women feel welcome in rugby, and in sport.”
Stella Mills, freelance sports broadcaster and journalist, says: “The move from Canterbury to white shorts is a big jump in the women’s rugby space to address the current imbalance. Anything we can do to ensure women feel more comfortable playing the sport we all love is a win for me. It’s also reassuring to see Canterbury think about players at all levels, with the opportunity for women to trade in their white shorts for a new pair.”
“Women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport for a reason, participation levels are climbing but we need to ensure the numbers keep growing and this starts with ensuring players, from grassroots right through to the elite level, feel comfortable in the kit they are wearing.”
Revolutionising women’s rugby
For Canterbury, this isn’t just about white shorts. With its mission to revolutionise rugby, the brand is committed to supporting all women in the game, by making sure every player feels listened to and respected. Canterbury is already taking action to put women’s performance front and centre, working closely with players at all levels, ambassadors and partners to enhance its product offering, improve access to the game and ultimately level the playing field – with more game-changing plans to be announced in 2023.
Players can find out how to claim their free pair of shorts here.
Caption: Pictured from left to right: Ireland squad’s Enya Breen, Dorothy Wall and Aoife Dalton