“These are such exciting times for our sport” – Sinead Peach hails new era on International Women’s Day
York Valkyrie star Sinead Peach has lauded the progress of the women’s game, moving on from her personal World Cup heartache and looking towards a bright future.
Peach, 24, says she had to start her own girls’ team at the age of 11 at her local team in Hunslet and would have to join up with other teams just to get enough numbers.
Significant strides since has seen the women’s game look towards a new era, with York and Leeds confirming payments on a performance-related basis for 2023.
The Rhinos made history by becoming the first team in England to financially reward their players for their efforts on the field, shortly followed by York.
Wigan CEO Kris Radlinksi also said that his women’s side will be rewarded with some form of payment in 2023.
The newly announced payments were confirmed following the success of the World Cup on home soil, with thousands of fans filling grounds for the tournament and Australia going on to claim the title.
York’s LNER Community Stadium was among those to host tournament fixtures alongside the likes of Leeds’ Headingley Stadium and Wigan’s DW Stadium.
The final between Australia and New Zealand was also held at Old Trafford as part of a double-header alongside the men’s.
Sinead Peach: “These are such exciting times for our sport”
“When I started playing my club had no girls’ team so at the age of 11 I had to form one myself,” Peach said.
“We would go to tournaments to have to join up with other teams just to get enough numbers. We had plenty of support but there were very few opportunities for girls, so to go from there to where the women’s game is today is unbelievable.
“You come to clubs like York and Leeds and you see hundreds of girls out there training. Women’s rugby is progressing day by day and season by season. That’s why it’s so important to have a day like International Women’s Day, which we can use to give the game even more exposure.
“These are such exciting times for our sport and I want to be a part of it. For any girl just starting now, seeing how players are starting to get paid and the game is being promoted, the world is their oyster.
“I go down to Hunslet Warriors now and there are these girls playing and I think back to how it started and have to pinch myself, knowing some of the girls I’m watching could potentially go all the way.”
“We know we can’t disappoint”
The payments will still see players perform on a part-time basis. But York’s Peach believes it’s a step in the right direction.
She continued: “I work in car sales from nine until half past four every day then I travel straight from work to training.
“It’s hard to juggle but you do it. There are mums in the squad and I don’t even understand how they manage.
“Now that we’re getting paid it helps a bit with some of the travel costs and our work to become better athletes, but it doesn’t change our mindset or anything. The difference is that now we have a point to prove and we know we can’t disappoint.”
Sinead Peach on World Cup heartache
Despite being one of six nominees for last season’s Woman of Steel award, Peach was not included in Craig Richards’ England squad for the World Cup.
A shock omission, the hooker admits she initially found the decision a tough one to take before going on to support the team from the sidelines.
England are back in action in April in a double-header with the men’s side against France in Warrington, with Peach eyeing up her international return.
Sky Sports will broadcast both fixtures, with the women’s fixture kicking off the action at 2pm.
It will be Stuart Barrow’s first game in charge, having been appointed as the new head coach in February following Richards’ departure.
“I took a break from the national team after the tour to Papua New Guinea in 2019 and being away just made me realise how much I did love playing rugby for my country,” added Peach.
“I think I did enough to prove I should I have been in the (World Cup) squad, so obviously it was hard to take.
“Playing at a home World Cup is any girl’s dream. But I cheered on my mates in the matches at York, and realised all I could do was put my boots back on and try for the next one.
“Hopefully I’ll get a chance against France at the end of April. I have spoken to Stu and he’s said he wants me back involved. I have no problems at all and I’m back really enjoying it.”
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