Women’s pro rugby team only one part of plan to grow game

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson says a broad approach to progress is needed.

Women’s pro rugby team only one part of plan to grow game SNS Group

Scottish Rugby is looking at plans for a professional women’s team but sees the move as part of a widespread effort to grow the game nationwide.

Chief executive Mark Dodson believes that a women’s club team should be a key part of the game’s growth strategy but that questions need to be answered about to properly introduce the idea.

Dodson admitted that the women’s national team was far from the top of the sport but said coaching was needed to help bring through more and better players.

“There’s almost a three-tier strata,” Dodson said. “There’s teams like France and England and New Zealand in the top, and then we’re probably at the bottom of that second tier.

“I think what we need is a better quality of competition and more coaching across the country. It’s not just a single issue.

“A pro team is part of our long-term plan but the issue is that there’s several components which overall need to be addressed. We’re not just trying to do it one at a time but approach it in an overarching way.

“The first thing is that we have to find a place for a professional women’s team to play. As you know, a large proportion of our women’s players play in the English league. What we’re looking at with all of the Unions is ways in which we can perhaps supplement that. We have to think about how we would position ourselves and whether we would have players to that.

“So we are going to look at it along with the other things I have described. I think it’s one of the key components we’re going to have to have over the coming years.”

The chief executive’s immediate concern is with the men’s team, where a Covid-19 outbreak forced nine players into self-isolation and then led to the cancellation of an ‘A’ team ficture against England on Saturday.

With games against Romania and Georgia coming up, questions have been asked about whether Scotland can fulfil the fixtures but Dodson said it was too soon to make any declarations about the situation.

“It’s a waiting game,” he said. “We have to wait and see.

“One of the issues is that sadly the Covid got into our camp, and I think we have to do three or four more days of surveillance and see what the outcomes are before we take any judgements.

“I was talking to [national team doctor] James Robson this morning and he gives me a daily briefing as to exactly where we are.

“I’m afraid it is a wait and see situation. I don’t think we can take any clear decisions until we find out just exactly what is going to happen over the next three or four days.

“We’ve been extremely prudent. We’ve taken a conservative approach and we’ve put health first. I think that’ll serve us well in the end but we’ll be better placed to give you more information in a few days’ time.

“We are working to the same protocols around the world and you can see outbreaks in other places as well. The Delta variant is much more virulent than the previous variants and we have to be very clear about our response to it. I do think it’s something we have to endure.”

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