Women sent to locker room during Parliamentary Rugby World Cup

While the entire world has its eyes on the Rugby World Cup hosted in France, another more confidential competition was recently played around the oval ball. From August 31 to September 7, the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup was held in Toulouse, Sarlat (Dordogne) and Paris.

Eight teams (South Africa, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the European Parliament and France) met in this tournament created in 1995 and played for the first time in South Africa under the aegis of Nelson Mandela. Here the actors are not professionals, but parliamentarians, former parliamentarians, collaborators or agents of parliaments.

The majority of the teams are mixed since the last edition, held in Japan in 2019, and three women are part of the French team, the parliamentary XV. “We are happy to play with our male colleagues, they are warriors on the field, but true gentlemen off it; It is team spirit and cooperation that unites us in this rugby team, not competition.” explains Véronique Riotton, Renaissance deputy.

A conservative view of the oval ball

Unfortunately, this good atmosphere with humanistic and sporting values ​​was tarnished during this edition: the delegations of the United Kingdom and South Africa announced several weeks before the start of the tournament that they refused to play against mixed teams.

An end to the inadmissibility that the president of the 15th parliament, Jean-François Portarrieu, welcomed with caution. For the Horizons deputy from Haute-Garonne, who carries in his DNA the values ​​of rugby, which he has practiced since childhood, the Anglo-Saxons hide behind an administrative reason to impose a conservative conception of this sport.

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The South African team and then the English team have invoked the ban imposed by rugby federations on securing players during matches involving plexus tackles if women participate. They are only allowed to participate in so-called recreational rugby matches, in which they are attacked from the waist. “Their arguments are valid, but they refused on principle any change in the rules. “Our vision of parliamentary rugby is inclusive, they are in it to win.” deplores Jean-François Portarrieu.

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The vice president of the XV Parliamentary and Renaissance deputy, Annaïg Le Meur, spoke before the match between the French team and the South African team: “We wanted, with Véronique Riotton, to express our discontent and our vision of sport, and defend all women in competition. This refusal by the South Africans and the English has completely chilled the entire event, which has a sporting as well as diplomatic character. says the elected official, who is also the team’s physical therapist. They have taken over the game: our goal is not to win but to share time with other rugby-loving nations. »

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Jamie Franklin

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