Source: ©INPHO/Matteo Ciambelli

The Six Nations Player of the Series – Some Thoughts

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Emily Scarratt is the first winner of this new award

It’s a relief to know the right decision has been made in the very first edition of the award. Picking a single player out in such a thoroughly team sport like rugby can lead to heated debate. Not in this case. Indeed it’s hard to find another player in world rugby who has mastered so many skills in so many areas to such a high degree.

Then we come to the less digestible side of things. This is the first time Guinness has offered a women’s award, sixteen years after the men’s version. We should be grateful for that, but the fact that it comes in the middle of the championship – there are three tests still to play – reminds us how the women’s Six Nations is still tied to its father’s apron-strings.

Where the men’s game goes, there the women’s game must follow.

So for the 2020 season women’s fixtures were again hooked to the men’s. That meant in effect that the winners were known as the final whistle blew in Pau in Round One. At least we can expect the England-France game to sit in Round Four next time.

We still haven’t learned the outcome of any discussions the 6N committee has had about rejigging the women’s tournament. The 2021 schedule looks very much like business as usual. And the biggest discrepancy lies in the financial reward.

If we look at attendances alone, then the gender disparity is partly justified. 82,000 for an England men’s home game; 10,000 for the women. But ironically attendances have been identical over the latter stages this year.

If we look at the input of players, then it’s hard to spot the difference. Whether the women players are amateur (the vast majority) or professional (the chosen few), their commitment to the game is astonishing and admirable. But it brings no financial reward.

Guinness are ‘Official Partners’ of the women’s 6N. They and the six unions will know precisely what that arrangement entails. How many of the public do?