Respect, recognition and a massive step forward for women’s sport.
Those were some of the reactions from players in the women’s teams at this week’s World Cup Nines to news that they would receive the same payment as their male counterparts for playing in the tournament.
The revelation by NRL.com that the 256 players in the four women’s teams and 12 men’s teams would be paid $2,000 each by tournament organisers was a topic of discussion at the official World Cup Nines launch in Sydney on Wednesday.
For most players in the Papua New Guinea and England women’s teams and USA and Lebanon men’s teams, it is the first time they have been paid to represent their nation.
However, for many of the game’s female stars the fact that men and women are receiving equal pay is as significant as the amount they are being paid.
“If you speak to the girls it is not the money but the reason behind it. It’s the recognition, it’s the respect,” PNG Orchids forward Lekiellia Brown said.
“Back home the girls get criticised a lot for playing rugby league so hopefully it changes people’s attitudes.
“Now when we go back the news will spread that we are equal, we are getting paid the same as the boys and it will motivate the young girls back home to take up rugby league.”
Brigginshaw talks up 'scary' Australian backline
Orchids co-captain Angelena Watego said many of the players had made financial sacrifices to play.
“I think it is good that we are being recognised and are finally on the same levels,” Watego said. “We live in the 21st century so we should all be treated the same.
“For the majority of the boys this is their job, they play football day in and day out, whereas the majority of us girls have to work and we have to train after work and we have to take time off work to come to these camps.”
Despite being contracted to St George Illawarra during the recent NRLW season, Kiwi Ferns forward Teuila Fotu-Moala is among the players who have to take time off work to play at the World Cup Nines.
“This means that I don’t have to worry about paying the bills for the week that I am away from work,” Fotu-Moala said.
“It’s awesome and I guess that the game is moving somewhere we would like it to go. It’s better than last year and better than the years before so gradually we are making changes and it is awesome to see that they are putting us on the same platform. It means a lot to the girls.”
Jillaroos fullback Botille Vette-Welsh said having pay parity at the World Cup Nines was significant for all women’s sport.
“It’s good to be acknowledged and rewarded for our efforts,” Vette-Welsh said. “We obviously want to be as great as the men so to be recognised and rewarded and paid equally is pretty cool.
“We have got to take a week off work so to get any money is something we are very grateful for but to get the same amount as the men is a really massive stepping stone for women’s footy and women’s sport in general.”
For ticket and travel packages for the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s Sydney 2019, head to nrl.com/tickets.