Rugby became the latest sport to launch a new women’s competition on Wednesday, and Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry had a simple reason when asked why the next generation should opt for Super W.
“Why shouldn’t they?” she said.
“You've got soccer leading the way, you've got rugby league come out last week, this is our chance, rugby union.
“We've seen a huge increase in the participation rates in Sevens and XVs and as (major sponsor) Josephine Sukkar alluded to before, we've got a World Cup, we can offer you an opportunity to go to the Olympic games - no other sport can offer that."
Though rugby was the first football code to have a fully professional women's outfit in Sevens, it is following the footsteps of the other major Australian sports in establishing a domestic women's competition, in the same vein as the women's Big Bash League, AFLW and recently-launched NRL women's competition.
The new women's national XVs competition will comprise of five teams - WA, NSW, Queensland, ACT and Victoria - and will run over six weeks, from the beginning of March, with regular rounds and a final to conclude in April.
In some ways the new tournament is an elongated version of the women's nationals in the past, that were held over just one weekend, giving teams more time to train together and the experience of travelling to play weekly.
Parry, who is a Sevens Olympic gold medallist as well as a champion for XVs, said there was enough talent to create a quality competition.
“There's enough players running around,” she said.
“We've obviously had the National Championships that have been played previously across the three days and I think the challenge with that is being able to back it up.
“You play a game, you've got to then play the next day, so having this tournament, it's a lot more realistic to club rugby in terms of you have a game each weekend, you can play 80 minutes state against state and those competitions are brutal, QLD vs NSW, if you can get that at Suncorp, here at Allianz before the men's game it'd be a huge spectacle for women's rugby.
“Those games are what we need to get ourselves better equipped to play on that international stage, it's a missing link we're missing at the moment.”Parry described the Wallaroos as ‘professional amateurs’ before departing for the World Cup earlier this year and the skipper said on Wednesday that this new competition would help bridge that gap.
“Firstly, obviously you've got more consistent games across the six weeks with the five state teams an I think for the girls that have week in week out strong competition, it's a lot better for the team,” she said.
“They're going to have access to high performance facilities which we've never really had before and in the long run, it's no doubt going to get the girls better prepared for what a Wallaroos camp is about and I think this is a great step forward to provide that pathway because a lot of the girls haven't been in the gyms, they don't know what to expect, so giving them a bit of a taste of what we're experiencing on a day to day with the Australian Sevens program.”
Outgoing CEO Bill Pulver said the competition would ultimately boost the Wallaroos.
“The Women’s National XVs Competition will allow our Women’s XVs players the opportunity to play in a high-quality competition, fully entrenched within the professional programs at each state giving them access to elite coaching and high performance facilities," he said.
"This will make the Buildcorp Wallaroos a significantly stronger outfit moving forward."
“The pathway is now complete in both with the Aon University Sevens Series and the Women’s National XVs Competition working in tandem to provide elite opportunities for players in both formats of the game.”
An extended XVs nationals competition was something Wallaroos captain and Aussie Sevens co-captain Shannon Parry backed ahead of this year's World Cup in Ireland, calling for patience around the growth of an elite XVs competition, amid the growth of elite women's sport around Australia.Parry said it was exciting to see opportunities for women in both forms of the game.
“I am really proud and excited about this competition launching next year and what this means for the game in Australia," she said.
“Since I started playing rugby in Brisbane the game has come along in leaps and bounds and this competition means that there is opportunity now for all XVs players and Sevens players at the elite level.
“It’s going to be great to see women’s state teams slug it out against each other and will open a lot of girls’ eyes up to the opportunities for them in rugby."