- Griffin captained Finchley RFC in 1984
- Griffin was awarded an OBE in 2012
Deborah Griffin has been re-elected as the women and girls’ representative on the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Council.
The appointment was confirmed at April’s RFU Council meeting, after a number of high-quality nominations were put forward for the position.
Having been involved in women’s rugby since the late 1970s, Deborah was a founding member of the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) and she chaired the organisation committee of the first Women’s Rugby World Cup in Cardiff in 1991. Captain of the first English women’s club side at Finchley RFC in 1984, she went on to play at Richmond Ladies for a further seven years."It’s tremendously exciting and constantly amazes me."
Griffin joined the RFU Council in 2010 while chair of the RFUW, which integrated fully into the union in 2012. She has served as the women and girls’ representative since then, while separately being a member of the RFU Board of Directors. Griffin was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to women’s rugby and became secretary of the Cambridge University RFU in 2014.
The news comes at an important time for the women’s game, with interest and participation in the sport at an all-time high.
Looking at the changes to the women and girls’ game over almost four decades Griffin is most impressed by “the growth in numbers, the number of women and girls playing and the number of clubs with women’s sections.”
She added: “It’s tremendously exciting and constantly amazes me. That critical tipping point is almost there in terms of participation and if I could wave a magic wand my number one wish would be to see everyone being able to play women’s and girls’ rugby at their local club.
“But if the interest is there, local clubs need to have the right structure to grow women’s and girls’ rugby and to sustain that growth. The coaching and development has to be as good as for boys and men.
“Ultimately, having women and girls’ sections will benefit the clubs who will gain in terms of new revenues, new players but also more volunteers. I constantly hear from clubs who say they have two or three women on their committee now and it is so much better.”
Ambitious targets for participation
Ahead of England Women’s appearance at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) as the current holders, the RFU set new ambitious targets as part of their women’s and girls’ strategy to double the number of female players to over 50,000 by the next WRWC.
The new target was set at the beginning of this season after it was announced that 26,000 women and girls now regularly play contact rugby, surpassing our previous goal of 25,000, one year ahead of schedule.
With over 300 rugby clubs across the country now hosting women and girls’ teams, there are numerous opportunities for women and girls across England to participate in rugby whether in sevens, 15s or O2 Touch.
This year the RFU also launched the Meet Your Inner Warrior campaign, aimed at encouraging more women and girls to take up contact rugby. As part of the campaign, 100 camps took place in rugby clubs across the country in January, offering fun rugby taster sessions for women who want to try out the sport before joining their local club. The next set of camps are due to be held in May and June of this year.
Since winning the WRWC trophy in 2014 the RFU introduced 20 professional full-time sevens contracts ahead of the Rio Olympics. This season the RFU also launched England Women’s new identity, the Red Roses, 48 professional contracts were offered for 15s and sevens players, the first-ever sponsored women’s series was held in November (Old Mutual Wealth Series), and the Red Roses wore their first custom-made women’s kit made by Canterbury.