Rugby league legend Garry Schofield was at the centre of much controversy on Friday night, after he compared the Women’s Super League Grand Final to an under-11’s amateur game.
The ex-Great Britain representative sent out a tweet which read: “Just watching ladies grand final. I’ve watched better under 11s game of rugby league at (Hunslet) parkside”.
He recieved huge backlash from current and former players of both the men’s and women’s game and has since come out and said he is considering his future within the game as a whole.
We’ve spoken to a current women’s rugby league player who, like many others, has condemned Schofield’s actions.
Because of her standing in the game, she wishes to stay anonymous, however she has a clear message to send out about the attitudes surrounding the women’s game:
Let me make myself perfectly clear, everyone is entitled to an opinion. No one deserves personal attacks to the extent that Garry received and that I can’t and won’t accept. Trolling, bullying or speaking out of term of a person’s family is never acceptable!
Ok so let’s dissect this tweet!
So, Garry isn’t short on coming forward in his opinions, well I’m not either, so this should even it out. Was his tweet aimed at all women? No! Did he mean it to be controversial? Well of course he did! In terms of reaction however, he fell seriously foul.
Wow… I think this is a new low even for you..disgraceful.
Fantastic effort and game last night from both @leedsrhinos and @CTRLFC women’s teams.
The more women and girls playing our great sport the better. https://t.co/osgOfeejTJ
— Jamie Peacock MBE (@JamiePeacock10) October 12, 2019
In my humble opinion he wanted his followers who class him as a “legend” (I use that term loosely) to back him up. He has a fair few followers, not all are in agreement with his opinion, but more than anything he wanted the male of the species to agree. They didn’t!
From looking at the comments I saw men stand up and defend our game, I saw fathers and family and friends quick to jump to our defence, what he failed to realise is that behind many of the women on the pitch are the people who have supported those ladies throughout their rugby journey and for that I am truly grateful.
Fortunately for us, those misogynist views are slowly disappearing from our society. Now a more intelligent man would have looked at the aptitude of his audience, ex-players, both sexes and those who choose to not identify as a sex, rugby league supporters, media, background staff, coaches, refs, etc. All are equally important in the skeleton of our glorious game.
What a disrespectful, small-minded comment. Might not have been the prettiest of games, but it wasn’t short of skill and excitement.
Usually a fan of Schofield for speaking his mind, but not when he comes out with this garbage. https://t.co/n3e8ZEIl70
— Jack Conlon (@Conlon98Jack) October 12, 2019
But he didn’t. He decided to sit in front of the box and throw his view in a public forum, knowing that he has a large audience. And the fallout to this unwanted and quite frankly uncalled for tweet? He subjected himself to “trial by social media” – a trial that I truly thought would have hit him a lot earlier with his outbursts being so frequent.
If he was speaking about a male game would he have had such a reaction? Probably not! Why? Because it’s become the norm of his drivel to chastise and not really speak with any beneficial content. I unfollowed him years ago, if that helps.
Garry stupidly made the ultimate mistake, he brought in the fact it was a woman’s game, he said that the standard was below par and that he had witnessed better played by 11-year olds at amateur club Hunslet Parkside. I read the Parkside head coach’s comment on Facebook and he stated he took it as a huge compliment and saw both Leeds and Castleford’s Ladies as committed, skilled and passionate players. That I can confirm, as I too have played against these ladies and regard them highly in efforts, sportsmanship and determination.
Now, the history of women’s rugby goes as far back as 1887. Yes it was union, however thus proving there were women on a pitch that far back. So, in over 132 years women have been donning their boots, walking on a pitch and playing some form of rugby. It has taken many years for a women’s rugby league Grand Final to be televised on national TV. This is a massive move forward and his comments could have had a detrimental effect on all the hard work that has brought our game to this level.
Garry Schofield is an out of touch dinosaur who earns money by trying to get a rise out of people by spouting outrageous nonsense. He is from a bygone era. Pay no attention to him. Don’t give him the satisfaction. #RugbyLeague
— Gavin Wilson (@GavWilson) October 12, 2019
His attitude is no longer accepted in our modern society and his comments rattled the cages of the women who, week in week out, put their bodies on the line for the sport we all love. They make sure that they play for the badge on their shirt, the teammates either side of them and ultimately themselves, and do all this without being paid!
I know there were players on that pitch on Friday night who had just finished a long shift, some are police officers, emergency service workers, some are mothers. Some are in their last years at uni, teenagers still trying to figure out life without the glory of being offered a contract and money being waved in front of their faces.
I have broken my arm 3 times, I have given birth and sprung back into shape to get back on that pitch, I have given up precious time with my children to play this game and I’m damned if an archaic view is going to infantize our game and belittle us.
— sammy (@sammywatts09) October 11, 2019
I wonder if he remembers that day back in 1983 when he made his debut for Hull FC? Or how he felt to wear the GB jersey for the first time? I also wonder how he would feel if any of his impressive accolades were to be dismissed? As he has also coached teams, I wonder how he would feel if his efforts were to be treated in this manner? The two head coaches of the teams, one male and one female, are the unsung heroes, but I wonder how they must feel after reading that short but impacting tweet on Friday evening?
No one has the right to dismiss a person’s dream and that is essentially what Garry did. He took the phenomenal growth of Women’s Rugby League and dismissed us as children. Why? When all it achieved was a few likes on a twitter account? I don’t believe Garry should leave rugby league. But what I do believe is that he should maybe, just maybe, think before he speaks!
He is supposed to be an ambassador for this sport, so he should start acting like one and include everyone. Not just the boxes he likes to see ticked.”