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The Army Rugby Union (ARU) has today joined the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Rugby Unions in retrospectively awarding caps to all women who have played Inter Service Championship rugby.

Today’s announcement means that every Inter Service Championship match back to the first Senior Women’s competition in 2003 will be recognised as a capped match in its own right, and brings the history of the Senior Women’s team into parity with the Senior Men.

Prior to the Inter Service Championship, as Women’s Rugby began to develop Representative structures in the civilian  sector, the Army’s fixture list included Devonport Services, the RAF, various international development squads, the British Police Fire Service and Nomads, the precursor of the Barbarians. Initially, players had to play five fixtures to be awarded their Army Colours in the form of a blazer badge.

Caps were then awarded from 2008 onwards.

Senior Women captain, SSgt Jade Mullen (AGC (SPS)), and Director of Rugby, Lt Col Ann O’Flynn (RAVC), have been undertaking research into the team’s games in the Inter Service Championship, identifying individuals to be presented with their caps at a special ceremony at RMA Sandhurst inNovember 2023.

Some 39 players have been identified to date to whom this news will apply, including former international players Jules Parke-Robinson, Sue Butler (nee Ellis) (both Wales), Jess Limbert and Morag Payne (both Ireland)

In recent years the Inter Service Championship has taken significant steps to achieving full parity between men and women, including having both Men’s and Women’s matches being played at the same venue on the same day, not least at the annual Army Navy clash at Twickenham.

ARU Chair, Brig James Cook OBE (CASTLE) says that it is only right for caps to be awarded for every Senior Women’s Inter Service Championship match, and is also delighted that all three of the Service Unions have adopted the same policy.

“Rugby across the military has taken great strides in recent years to achieve parity between the Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s teams, and we were proud to watch our Senior Women run out at Kingsholm and Twickenham for the first time when the Inter Service Championship resumed after the Covid lockdowns,” he said.

“Nevertheless there is still plenty of work to do, and we believe that having the three Service Unions adopt the same policy of awarding caps to every woman who has played in the Inter Service Championship reflects our continued proactive approach.

“I am delighted that this move has happened, and am looking forward to welcoming our past players to Sandhurst in November.”

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks