As gender barriers within sports were broken down towards the end of the 20th century it became acceptable for women to play rugby, by the mid-1990’s servicewomen were regularly playing the game and in 1996 their efforts were officially recognised by the Army Rugby Union.
Women’s rugby grew under the guidance of one of its founders Lt Col EE Cunningham, Adjutants General’s Corps (AGC). Success was soon in coming – in 2001 during their tour of Cyprus the Women’s Tens Team lifted the Akrotiri Tens Cup and since then their triumphs on the pitch have continued. Lt Col EE Cunningham retired from the position of ARU (W) Chairwoman at the end of the 2007-08 season.
In 2003 a Women’s Inter-Service Competition was introduced to run alongside the men’s competition that had been in existence since 1920. The inaugural competition was won by the Army who, under the captaincy of Major S Butler, beat both the Royal Navy (35-5) and the Royal Air Force (RAF). Since its inception the Army has dominated the competition beating both Royal Navy and RAF teams in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The women made their first international tour to Canada in 2005 and followed it in 2007 with a tour to New Zealand.
The Corps Competition was extended to include women’s teams in the 2007-08 season and in its inaugural season it was won by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) women’s team who beat the Army Medical Services team.
Women’s Inter-Services Competition Champions
An official Women’s Inter-Services Competition began in 2003, although a match had been played against a Royal Air Force (RAF) team in 2001 and a Royal Navy team in 2002.
In 2020 the Inter Service competition matches were not played due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.