This weekend Mexico’s female rugby team will be heading to San Francisco to compete in the Rugby World Cup Sevens. It will be the first time that Mexico has qualified and taken part in the competition.
Under the watchful eye of coach Robin MacDowell, a former Canadian sevens team member who was brought in by the Mexican Rugby Federation just 18 months ago, the team made history when they qualified for the World Cup after beating Trinidad and Tobago last November. This weekend the team will face New Zealand in their opening game, well aware of the challenge they are up against.
The sport has seen a steady growth in popularity within the country, and though still relatively small, the rugby team has even managed to open seven regional rugby training grounds around Mexico despite little funding.
Due to Mexican society expecting their daughters to fulfil a traditional role, many players recently admitted to experiencing criticism from their families.
Coach MacDowell was recently quoted by World Rugby reflecting on the positive change that has come from their qualifying win. “Some of these girls whose families didn’t support rugby have really opened up since their daughters have qualified for the World Cup.”
According to The Province, despite MacDowell beginning to train with just 11 women, the group now has over 100 players that participate to the sport and despite a lack of experience in comparison to more established teams, their World Cup qualification has plunged the team into the limelight. Since the qualifiers, the Las Serpientes team has also celebrated the efforts of their team captain, Daniela Rosales, who has become an inspirational leader in female sport within Mexico.
At the same time Mexican female rugby players have also looking to try out for the for the HK 7s and the qualifiers for the Olympic Youth Games in Las Vegas. Preparations for RAN 10 (Rugby America North) and the run-up to September’s Pan American Games are also paving the way for the country’s bid for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, according to the Mexican Rugby Federation. Later this August the women’s rugby team will also head to Barranquilla, Colombia for the Central American and Caribbean Games.
MacDowell, who has also coached other teams around the world such as the North American hybrid team of U19 boys at the World Series, has addressed the recent Mexican rugby success as a potential game-changer for inspiring a new community of athletes.