Women’s sport has skyrocketed into a global audience over the last decade, with an abundance of female role models in a range of sports.

Rugby, in particular, has made strides forward in broadening the reach of elite women’s performance by extending pathways across the country through regional Centres of Excellence. Aspiring young women now, more than ever, have opportunities to participate and excel in sports that have historically been male-dominated.

At Downside, we believe that it is important for every young woman to find a form of exercise that they enjoy and feel challenged by. We hope that by enjoying a particular sport, our girls may wish to continue it post-Downside, possibly even as a professional career. Indeed, we support all pupils – boys and girls – in this endeavour.

Downside remains keen to expand sport provision to the girls in School by breaking down barriers that once prevented them from taking part in traditionally ‘male’ sports. It has been important to destigmatise women playing sports such as cricket, rugby and football, and encourage our girls to break the mould by participating in sports that they otherwise might not have had an opportunity to do so. At Downside, this began with cricket in 2018, where girls were given opportunities to compete in the Lady Taverners cricket competition as well as in Twenty20 matches in whites. This term, Fifth and Lower Sixth Form girls’ have been offered rugby as an option with a significant uptake. The attitude of the girls towards what is a new sport for most of them, and a contact one at that, has been admirable, and they have not shied away from the challenge.

We look forward to being able to support them in their new-found love of rugby, and to help them to develop the key skills to excel in this sport.