Martyn Thomas

World in their Hands

World in their Hands recounts the remarkable events that led to a group of friends from south-west London staging the inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991. The tournament was held just 13 years after teams from University College London and King’s contested a match that catalysed the growth of the women’s game in the UK, and the organisers overcame myriad obstacles before, during and after the World Cup. Those challenges, which included ingrained misogyny, motherhood, a recession, the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, provide a fitting framing device for a book that celebrates female achievement in the face of adversity.
Although ostensibly a story about women’s rugby, this is a tale that has rare crossover appeal. It is not only the account of a group of inspirational women who took on the institutional misogyny that existed in rugby clubs across the globe to put on a first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup. It is also the compelling and relatable tale of how those women, their peers and others in the generations before them, reshaped the idea of what it means to be a woman, finding acceptance and friendship on boggy rugby pitches. At the time, with the men’s game tying itself up in knots about professionalism and apartheid, these women were a breath of fresh air. Three decades on, their achievements deserve to be highlighted to a wider audience.
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