WHAT IS ELITE WOMEN’S RUGBY?
Elite Women’s club rugby in England began in a league format in 1986. This competition became known as the Women’s Premiership at the turn of the century, and continues to pride itself on providing the highest level of women’s club rugby union in the world.
The Women’s Premiership Group formed in 2012 with the prime aim of safeguarding the welfare of players and creating a consistently high quality player experience.
WHO AM I?
My name is John ‘Max’ Maxwell and I am the MD of Featherkite, a website design and hosting company. Rugby is a huge part of my life and after meeting Catherine Spencer some years ago, I became interested in the women’s game at the highest level. The World Champion team of 2014 were something very special and I immediately became aware of how important our domestic game would become in maintaining the sort of national side that I, and many others love to watch. This inspired me to do whatever I can to promote Women’s Elite Rugby in England.
2017 AND THE PREMIER15S
This season saw a big change in the top tiers of women’s domestic rugby in England. 40 Clubs were invited to claim a place in the newly formed (and RFU backed) Premier15s League, to replace the Women’s Premiership. 10 were successful and controversially, Lichfield Ladies were not one of them – their place being taken by a brand new club the Loughborough Lightning. You can read more on that here.
2017 AND WER
The 2017-18 Season had just me running the WER (Women’s Elite Rugby) Website, Twitter and Instagram. I added all the clubs, fixtures and league tables and extended the coverage to 2 Tiers – covering the Premier15s, Championship 1 North and Championship 1 South – 26 clubs in all.
We dropped the Elite … like we dropped the ‘Prem’ before and hopefully we have found something to settle on! We are now Women’s Club Rugby, after all, that’s what we’re all about isn’t it? Scrumqueens cover the International scene and Premier15s is sort of taken care of by the RFU.
#WCR(Women’s Club Rugby) is at a point now where I can no longer run the website on not only a voluntary basis, but actually at a sizeable loss – when you add in the domain registration, web hosting, web security and updates etc – as well as the actual time spent, it’s costing me real money.
During the summer of 2019 a decision will be made on whether or not the website can become viable and therefore continue to provide the fantastic service it has been providing to Tier 2 Women’s Rugby Clubs in the UK, and their vibrant community of followers.
A letter was sent to each Tier 2 club asking if they would be willing to pay £10 a month to contribute towards our running costs. At time of writing this around 8 clubs think it should be doable, with 1 club (Thank you West Park Ladies Leeds!) confirming and only one club responding negatively.
WHAT WILL THIS COVER
If enough teams agree to contribute, then all fixtures, results and standings will be available for 2019/20 as they were for the 2018/19 season. In addition, all contributing clubs will continue to have a team page with information on who and where they are like this:
Contributing teams will be able to add their sponsor and contact details to these pages as well as their social media channels.
If we can first become viable, then future plans include adding in the Top Tier of Women’s Rugby from Wales, Ireland and Scotland, as well as Tier 3 in England. I also intend to offer the same service as above to Premier 15s teams at £25 pcm and Tier 3 teams at £5 pcm, to fund the expansion and the additional time and resources required.
All change! After an awful year for Rugby and indeed, everything and everyone … #WCR has risen again from the ashes with a new look and a new mission.
The website has had a design and content tweak during the first two months of 2021. The most significant change is my operational model and strategic approach, which you can read more about in my blog post here.
Content-wise the most significant is the addition of the Home Nation’s International teams and the 6 Nations Competitions, which is very exciting.
I am in the process of re-engaging with all Tier 2 clubs to make plans for the 2021/22 Season, so that we can have a system in place ready for the start of the season.
As of April 2021, I have re-branded as Women’s Rugby Data @womensrugbydata #WRD
I have introduced Patreon as a way for people to contribute to the running of the website and although it hasn’t had much take up, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to all those who have taken the time to get involved and just £1 per month does go a long way towards helping, when you get enough people doing it.
It’s been a while since I dropped a note on to this timeline and the page is indeed hidden now. After the post pandemic revival, the Twitter account was rekindled and I am once again heading up to 1k followers, which is great. I had 7.5k followers at the point we dissolved #WCR etc and 1.5k on Instagram. Both of these accounts were donated to other users and I have started afresh.
A few big stories for this season, so I’ll cover them separately:
CHAMP 1 NORTH & SOUTH
The 2021/22 Season has kicked off really well with two competitive leagues going well and most satisfyingly, I have managed to get scorers names from every match and so I’ve been able to add a Top Scorer chart to each Champ 1 league. Even more exciting is the fact that every club has been supplying their PoM data after every match. This is something I have been trying to do for some time, so that I can put together a Champ 1 ‘Player of the Season’ award. The fabulous @PodWomensRugby have already agreed to ‘host’ the announcement, so I’ll put something together for that & donate some kind of prize.
ALL IRELAND LEAGUE (AIL)
This has been a great addition to the website as the players, clubs and fans have been so engaged and supportive. This season I have added all results every Monday and because the data that comes out is so good, I’ve been able to add players/scorers too. I may well look into having a PoM stream to this league too next season, depending on how well the Champ 1 goes this season.
AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS & ARCHIVE
Just this month I finished uploading all the results, from every Women’s Rugby World Cup. I hope to eventually complete all scorers for these and do the same for the Women’s 6 Nations. Meanwhile, the Autumn Internationals proved so popular that I figured I should add them to the website, if only as a hook to get people interested in the teams and players. WRD remains the only website where you can click on a match, then click on a player and see their profile – bringing together all of their domestic and International rugby data on a single page.
My coverage for Premier15s continues and I have recently updated the Allianz Cup Data too, as this seemed to have very little coverage elsewhere. All the season data continues to feed the ‘ALL TIME TOP SCORER’ tables, as this is all dynamic of course.
Every so often a player becomes popular in the press and I will see a particular profile get a load of hits, but generally … this is still an area that I’d hoped would be popular, but remains pretty much unused. Obviously, every time I add a scrorer to a match, if they don’t already have a profile – I have to add one, so adding scorers to Champ 1 and AIL is adding to the number of profiles and I’m way in excess of a thousand, now.