Dr Liz Gordon: Only boys play rugby


So you get your secondary school rugby teams together for a meet-and-greet with your major sponsor. And the new boss (just down from Tauranga, where they don’t have girls) gives a speech rattling on about the boys’ rugby games he has been to, talked about the boys’ competition and wished the boys luck. He “accidentally omitted” any mention of the nine girls’ teams that his company also sponsored. They were not even an afterthought.
They were standing right in front of him but were invisible.

In the ensuing uproar, Mr Tauranga said “my bad” and apologised. He was very, very, very sorry. He tried to talk to the Girls’ High principal, but she was very, very, very angry.
In damage control, the head of the Canterbury Rugby Union said that there was no malicious intent in the omission. Everybody knows how important girls’ rugby is. It is really important. Honestly.

Imagine if it had been the other way around, and Mr Tauranga had talked about the amazing success of the girls’ teams (they do much better than the boys in national competitions), that he had been to a few girls’ games and he wished the girls luck this season. There would have been calls for his head, or at least for another sponsor to be found.

As it is, his faux pas simply confirmed the natural order of things. Boys are top, girls bottom. Rugby is a man’s game, and women are an afterthought at best.
And, in the wider theme of gender politics, everybody knows, don’t they, that this is a bloke’s society. Women are undervalued, underpaid and often ignored. If we are lucky, they are an afterthought. And a large number of young women, who are excellent players of their game, were inducted into this depressing, demeaning social reality.

Dear Miles Toyota, thank you so much for sponsoring schoolboy (oops and girl) rugby, but actions speak louder than words, and I won’t be buying your Toyotas any time soon.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. A doctor and his son are involved in a terrible car accident. The doctor is killed outright and his son is taken to hospital. The surgeon arrives and says,’ I can’t operate as this is my son’. How can this be?

  2. I don’t want to call it school people rugby. Want to call it school girl ridgy you have to earn it not just show up and demand respect.

  3. I can see the same thing happening but in reverse for netball. Netball is a girls sport!

    You are talking about Rugby. The cultural weight and sponsorship of rugby outshines other sports like basketball which is equally weighted between the sexes and has a higher participation rate than rugby.

    What you gonna do, its the national sport.

    While on the subject of sport. Sounds like the Americas Cup is fucking off. That will free up $100million of tax payers money for something useful, as long as the government doesn’t capitulate to a second approach from those scammers. Good job.

  4. Summary:
    Guy from out of town not across details of his organizations sponsorship gives speech , gets cancelled for gender crime.

    You wonder why anyone bothers sponsoring sport for such an ungrateful public.

    Plus, weren’t the moral police already hating on Toyota for not having a plug in electric Ute or something?

    *Toyota make the most reliable vehicles on the planet, cancelling them will just add to pollution.

  5. To be fair Rugby is and always has been an elitist old boys black hole. Only certain boys can fit into this environment.

    Subjecting these poor girls to this Free Masons type world is a cruel and unusual punishment.

    On the flip side I note the principal offender in a revolting indecent assault appealled her sentence and was discharged without conviction. Had that been a male on female jail would have been the likely outcome.


    Females are not always perennial helpless victims of either in deed or punishment!

  6. To Dr Liz: you are on the money, again!
    To the girls of Canterbury rugby: You are all wonderful – get a full time photographer.
    To all the girls who have never been allowed to go out of the house/vale..let alone drive a car, look at the rugby players! They can run, tackle, scrum etc, get covered in mud, have a laugh, etc, there’s some great role models..keep going…

  7. I love rugby / used to play myself and now my son plays however at our local club (Helensville) and in the North Harbour junior competition as a whole there are great many girls involved (both in girls only and combined teams) and as they are now such an integral / accepted part of the game I am very surprised that this kind of attitude remains (maybe only in places such as Canterbury)?


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