The Ireland women’s rugby team have made history as the first in the Six Nations to make a permanent switch from the traditional white shorts to navy alternatives, in response to players’ concerns around period anxiety.
In a historic move for women in sport, the Irish women’s rugby team will wear dark shorts for the first time at the upcoming Women’s Six Nations rugby tournament.
Ireland captain Nichola Fryday unveiled the team’s new navy shorts at the TikTok Women’s Six Nations press conference in London on March 15th.
Ireland Women’s Rugby Team Switch Shorts Over Period Anxiety
The move, which is led by world-leading kit supplier Canterbury of New Zealand and the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union), comes as a response to female rugby players’ feedback about period anxiety and the women voiced their concerns about playing in white shorts while on their periods.
As part of the shift, Canterbury is also offering other teams and players at all levels, who have previously purchased Canterbury white women’s shorts, the chance to claim a free pair in a different colour. The opportunity applies to players who have purchased women’s white shorts from Canterbury in the last three years.
The navy shorts will be debuted in Ireland’s opening game of the Women’s Six Nations against Wales on March 25th.
Speaking about the switch, Ireland International, Enya Breen, said: “The top way to ensure we perform to our best on the field is by removing any unnecessary distractions. Wearing navy shorts instead of white is such a small thing, but for us it’s a big step from Canterbury and the IRFU.
“This will remove the stress of worrying about being on your period while you’re playing in a match. Our hope is that it will help women at all levels of rugby feel more comfortable on the field so they can get on with performing at their best in the game that they love.”
The decision is one of a number of Canterbury initiatives to further the grassroots game. Its Give It A Try initiative with the IRFU has encouraged thousands of girls to take up rugby and Canterbury’s Future Fund grant, which focuses on creating equity for women in the sport, has supported UK players with kit, coaching and funding in its first year.
Victoria Rush, director of the film No Women No Try, also commented: “As women we are given a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t play rugby, before we’ve even started. This decision by Canterbury and the IRFU is a first step in a much more important conversation about choice for women in sport.
“It shows how brands, clubs and governing bodies can make sure that every woman on the pitch feels comfortable, heard and respected. Here’s to many more decisions like this that make women feel welcome in rugby, and in sport.”
Stella Mills, freelance sports broadcaster and journalist added: “The move from Canterbury to white shorts is a big jump in the women’s rugby space to address the current imbalance. Anything we can do to ensure women feel more comfortable playing the sport we all love is a win for me.
“It’s also reassuring to see Canterbury think about players at all levels, with the opportunity for women to trade in their white shorts for a new pair.”
“Women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport for a reason, participation levels are climbing but we need to ensure the numbers keep growing and this starts with ensuring players, from grassroots right through to the elite level, feel comfortable in the kit they are wearing.”
For Canterbury, this isn’t just about white shorts. With its mission to revolutionise rugby, the brand is committed to supporting all women in the game, by making sure every player feels listened to and respected. Canterbury is already taking action to put women’s performance front and centre, working closely with players at all levels, ambassadors and partners to enhance its product offering, improve access to the game and ultimately level the playing field – with more game-changing plans to be announced in 2023.
As part of its efforts to ease period anxiety, some women’s football teams, including West Bromwich Albion Women, have changed the colour of their shorts, while Wimbledon announced last year that it will relax its rule restricting women from wearing white clothing.