Feature: The 1991 Heritage Women's Rugby Shirt
After two women’s rugby world cups in quick succession, there’s no better time than to put the inaugural tournament in the spotlight – a landmark in the history of women’s rugby.
The very first World Cup was held in 1991 in Cardiff, founded and organized principally by just four women: Deborah Griffin, Sue Dorrington, Alice Cooper, and Mary Forsyth, all from Richmond Rugby Club. The tournament was beset by difficulties from the start. The International Rugby Board, (now World Rugby) the governing body for the men’s game worldwide, wouldn’t officially recognize the women’s cup, as the men’s was already in the works for that year. They also took issue with the ostensibly similar logos, and the fact that Griffin and her team were also calling their rugby union tournament a Rugby World Cup.
They did it anyway. But the problems didn’t end there: from France’s confirmation occurring just minutes before the draw, to double-booked accommodation and chauvinistic press coverage (one word: ‘scrumptious’), the journey to getting it started, and the tournament itself, were fraught with difficulties that by the end of its nine-day run left the organizers completely exhausted.
The now legendary story of the struggles to even get it off the ground has certainly become women’s rugby lore, a reminder of the efforts of the women who made it possible for the game to continue to grow - and of how the fight to be recognized simply to play the sport we love continues to be dispiritingly relevant.
And yet the cup is unforgettable for other reasons too: the passion and enthusiasm of every team, including Japan, who didn’t score a single try; the opening match, New Zealand v Canada, beginning with the first ever Haka to be performed by a women’s team; and, of course, the final at Cardiff Arms Park in which the USA was victorious, defeating England 19-6 and making them the first world champions for women’s rugby union.
Perhaps most importantly, however, there was the massive "self-belief change" the World Cup brought about, as Deborah Griffin put it: "I think people realised we weren't going to go away…It was a case of: 'We're not alone.'
Connect to the history of the game and celebrate its legacy with our 1991 Heritage Collection. We’re especially delighted to partner with USA Rugby on a limited line of the winning team’s historic jerseys, replicating the iconic women’s rugby shirt with pride and respect.
These extra-special women’s rugby tops have been crafted in England the traditional rugby way. Each features:
· A classic, twill rugby collar
· Premium, lineout print, Ruggette RFC woven neck label
· Felted jersey number application
· Ruggette button detailing on the collar
· A twill patch of the official Cardiff 1991 Women's Rugby World Cup crest
· The history of those who paved the way
We’ve updated the fit for the modern women’s rugby player – cut to be classic, but even better. The Heritage fit has been tailored slightly from the original unisex (read: men's) rugby shirt: the hem and sleeves are slightly shorter and we’ve streamlined the torso too – as well as elongating the taped side split for both maximum comfort and a garment that hangs just right. If you've come to know and love our Tomboy fit, the Heritage sizing will fit similarly; we recommend taking your normal size.
We also offer our usual range of data-driven, precise sizing, from XS to 3XL. You can even choose to add a number to your shirt, or none at all.
For more ways to show your support of women’s rugby past and present, we also offer one of a kind prints. They’re authentic, original photographs that, up until now, have not been available to the public: the best way to decorate your room or clubhouse and remind yourself why we play.