Sports clothing manufacturers, Canterbury of New Zealand, issued an apology on Thursday 27 August 2020 after coming under fire for not using female players to promote their new line of Irish rugby jerseys. The promotional photos used in the kit launch showed three beaming IRFU men’s players (Bundee Aki, Robert Henshaw and Conor Murray) alongside three super-imposed models in women’s kit.
Since then, the IAmEnough hashtag has trended on social media, accompanied by photos of women’s rugby players and teams, from grassroots to professional. It is intended to bring greater recognition to female players of the sport, who make up 25% of all players.
To their credit, Canterbury quickly apologised and the image of models wearing the women’s kit on the front page of their website was taken down.
The brand has encouraged the spread of #IAmEnough on Twitter. It has also pledged to photograph both male and female rugby players for all its campaigns in future, and work to tackle inequalities in the sport.
One of the main instigators behind #IAmEnough was Vicoria Rush, Content Producer at O2 & O2 Sport, Advisory Board Member at Girls Rugby Club and Richmond rugby player.
So…it’s been over a year now since #IamEnough went viral – give us a quick recap:
#IAmEnough was a social movement in 2020 which highlighted another moment women were overlooked. It was not the first time something like this happened or a surprise to most of us.
But, it spurred a feeling women have felt in all walks of life; that they are not good enough, that they do not deserve attention or focus, that women can be overlooked with no consequence; that what they look like is more important than what they do.
What were the reactions from the rugby community?
The movement spanned the globe, from the premier15s to grassroots rugby across the UK, to the USA, Canada, Mainland Europe, Hong Kong and Australia.
Globally, women across the related to the movement and its purpose. Why? Because in all walks of life women know what it’s like to overlooked and not considered.
What changes have been made?
We have progressed in many ways; more sports companies are sharing photos of women’s rugby, players and kit. Canterbury now has three ambassadors – Zaniab Alema, Eloise Blackwell and Ellie Kildunne.
What have been some of the Positives?
One of the biggest progressions we’ve made is the army of male allies we have, from Ugo Monye to Brian O’Driscoll. We now have men in the game and in the media using their voices to promote the women’s game.
One thing about male allies is how simple it is to be an ally. Men are not ‘woke’ for supporting women they are progressive. Many of them have daughters whom they want to have an opportunity in the world just like they do.
Someone like Ugo Monye is actively talking about the women’s game each week, helping progress it at every opportunity. But it doesn’t have to be that; male players can promote their teams’ women’s sides on social media by simply sharing match updates or ticket availabilities. Paolo Odoweau shared his Instagram account with Meg Jones on International Women’s Day for his followers to learn about the England 7s & 15s players lives.
What advice would you give men wanting to do more?
Social media is king. Male allies can do so much to help women’s sports. Anything from liking and sharing a post, to speaking out about the inequalities. You don’t have to do everything, just something.
Many male players, I believe, are worried about being called Woke or similar when they support a cause. But really, their platforms can help grow the game through their followers and their reach.
My advice, simply start by sharing the fixtures or the successes of your women’s teams on social channels and build from there.