The campaign seeking to advance equality with men for female sporting stars inevitably risks running into a little local difficulty when coming together the harsh realities of the world.
Currently the general media line is that the England women’s team in football, rugby, hockey and cricket are inexorably and rightfully gaining traction in terms of world recognition, spectator numbers and better pay.
This is only to be expected when England’s rugby women are now being considered for and/or being given central contracts which will help with their development by allowing them to take part in full-time training and making use of all the RFU’s plentiful resources in the fields of nutrition and fitness conditioning.
And yet. Off they went last week to the Sevens Rugby World Cup in San Francisco where – in the ‘straight knockout’ tournament – they got beat fair and square by Ireland in the very first round and were left complaining to the media about the tournament’s ‘sudden death’ set-up.
Which, of course, applied equally to everyone, as they very well knew before they set off to enjoy the attention of the healthy crowds attracted by the men’s equivalent tournament upon which they were piggy-backing.
The host nation (England) – as we know from the build-up and all the breathy previews – are (or rather were) in pole position to emerge at (or close to) the top of the tree, having not only provided the bulk of the Team GB squad that won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics but having sold out their 10,000 seater stadium in advance for each of their group stage matches.
The only problem? On the pitch, things ain’t going quite so well.
England have so far just about scraped 1-1 draws with both India and the USA and, without a significant victory in their third group match, could be facing an early exit.
Last night, on the BBC South TV news at 6.30pm, I watched a glowing preview of last night’s women’s cricket Kia Super League cricket tournament match between Sussex Vipers and Loughborough Lightning.
The Vipers had demolished Surrey Stars earlier in the week and were looking forward with confidence to taking down the Lightning with similar verve.
Instead the Lightning, fresh from a victory over Lancashire Thunder, bowled the Vipers out for just 105 and recorded a six-wicket win, taking them to top of the table.
[No attendance figures were available of any of these games at the time of The Rust going to press.]
Er … I just thought you’d like to know that.