The 6th Women's Rugby World Cup will be played next August in England (official site )... RFU Museum in Twickenham is working on a temporary exhibition about women rugby and is searching for memorabilia (newspapers, photos, jerseys, cards, trophies, etc...). I'm trying to arrange some contacts here in France, but I'm sure that they would appreciate additional inputs (especially for material outside Great Britain)... Just drop a comment or a mail to contribute or share ideas !
As far as French rugby is concerned, I have to admit that I don't know very much about its history and that my memorabilia is pretty poor... This being said, the history of French Women Rugby is tied to the game of "Barette", a passing game - kind of hybrid between rugby and touch rugby (can someone post the original rules, it will help my undestanding of that code.. thanks !)
A first "root" of this French Barette brings us to the region of Bordeaux at the end of the XIXth century, where a phisician, Dr Philippe Tissié, wrote a code of "Barette" in 1899 (known as "la Barette Aquitaine") which quickly spread among local schools. It seems that girls were also playing... But, say, I'm not sure of the sporting interest of that game... (help ! a picture and the rules please !)
Another form of "barette" - say, rugby as we (almost) know it... - was played in France in the 1920s. It originated at Femina Sports, the leading omnisport women club in Paris (cf wikipedia - in French) and was reported to be sponsored by SCUF and former international player (5 caps between 1908 and 1913) André Theuriet. Below is Thieuret with Femina Sports ("Les Hirondelles") captain Miss Cubaret, and "Cadettes de Gascogne" (Bordeaux) captain Miss Dubarry... nice berets indeed !
Picture credit to INSEP - French National Sports Center - Please also check a dozen of other very interesting pictures of 20s women rugby from the same series here... and watch this 1928 movie - Femina again - showing various phases of a women rugby game (rugby starts at 0'30 - Credit to British Pathé).
Again, I'd like to get a copy of the rules (could someone help ?)... apparently 10 or 12 a side teams playing a vigarous passing game - no rucks, no mauls - but throw-ins and scrums... I assume that tackling below waist wasn't allowed...
Women rugby was popular enough for F.F.S.F. (Fédération Féminine Sports de France - French Union of Women Sports) to organise a French Championship... teams from Paris, Bordeaux, Lille as above (picture credit to sports historian Joris Vincent in Lille - also cf this older post)... the Championship medal below is a new find for my collection...
From another standpoint, let's also share this fine comic print by cartoonist Fabiano, published in Fantasio (kind of French "Punch Magazine") in 1925...or remember this other "erotic" print...
Caption reads "Rugby Féminin - Enfoncez la mélée ! commande la capitaine... Mais comme son ami la regarde, elle se refait une beauté" (Women rugby - Break up the scrum ! the captain orders...).
To be honest, Women football was even more popular in the 20s, for instance touring to England or welcoming Dick-Kerr's Ladies F.C. in France in 1920... Actually, rugby and football team usually belonged to the same clubs... here are the same Paris Femina Hirondelles and Bordeaux Cadettes de Gascogne on the cover page of French newspaper "Le Petit Journal" in November 1923... (painting by André Galland... too large for my A4 scanner...)
Definitely a long post ! Please don't forget... Wanted : Women Rugby Memorabilia!