Last updated on November 15th, 2023 at 01:44 PM
As the new rugby season kicks off on November 18, 2023, PWR has teamed up with Getty Images to spotlight women’s rugby in a groundbreaking campaign, challenging stereotypes and aiming to make the sport the most inclusive in the UK.
The “Powered Differently” initiative emerged from the desire to showcase the diversity within women’s rugby, breaking away from societal norms.
Belinda Moore, co-founder of PWR, kindly gave up some of her very valuable time from her extremely busy day to share some insights into the campaign’s origins, its impact, and the driving principles shaping women’s rugby’s future.
SHM: “The Powered Differently” campaign is intriguing. Can you tell us the story behind its inception and what inspired you to launch it?
BM: The thought behind it came about when I was watching a women’s match at Twickenham – the teams were made up of incredible women of all shapes and sizes, and it became really obvious how much rugby goes against the grain in a world where women are often conformed to look a certain way.
We wanted the Powered Differently campaign to show that when you look at a team of 15 players, it represents that you can be anyone you want to be.
We feel the inclusivity and representation of women is unique in rugby in comparison to other sports, and we wanted to create a campaign to embrace that.
SHM: How do you personally connect with the message of being “Powered Differently,” and what impact do you hope this campaign will have on others?
BM: I’m lucky enough to be the mother of four daughters, so they became a pretty good focus group for me at home. It was interesting to see what they see on social media, being exposed to so many fake and unrealistic role models, when we know there are truly inspiring women in the sport who have the potential to be a much better role model for them.
We hope the campaign is a great example that it’s not just about how you look but about the qualities you don’t see, the drive, determination, ambition and skill that all of our amazing players have.
SHM: Could you share some of the key principles or values that drive “The Powered Differently” campaign and the organization’s mission?
BM: When we were working on the rebranding of the league to Premiership Women’s Rugby, what really came through was that women’s rugby players are the ultimate trailblazers.
It’s not something that comes instinctively to women with it not being taught or played in schools yet, so those that do choose to be involved are actively paving the way for others. The campaign was brought out of that spirit, to show that the women in rugby really are all powered differently.
There’s also the shared goal that everybody in women’s rugby is working towards ahead of 2025 Women’s World Cup being hosted here in the UK.
With it being a contact sport, currently people might be shocked and say ‘wow, you play rugby’ as it sits outside of where girls are traditionally meant to be comfortable. But every girl I know that does play rugby loves it and it has a hugely positive impact on their mental health.
So we want to ensure those in the sport at the moment help us keep those values as we look to grow. That’s why we have the Athlete Forum, a subcommittee of players that sits on the board for the organisation, ensuring their voice is heard right at the top of the sport.
SHM: In a world of countless campaigns, what do you believe sets “The Powered Differently” apart and makes it resonate with a broader audience?
BM: A lot of the thinking behind it was about showing the players as more than players. So many representations of women in sport forget to talk about them as people outside of it.
That’s why we wanted the players to work with stylists to choose their own outfits for the shoot, wearing what made them feel great.
Some of the players actually pointed out that it was the first time they were being allowed to smile in a shoot – when you think about it athletes usually have to have this serious game face.
Our thinking was that yes you can have that, but equally it’s important for personalities to come through and to make sure they’re having fun too.
SHM: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges and opportunities in promoting diversity and inclusivity through this campaign?
BM: Women’s rugby basically exists in a different space to other mainstream sports as it is currently not played in schools, so most of the players coming through come from a local rugby club.
This has led to a really diverse group being naturally brought together through shared interests and beliefs, rather than it being dictated by their upbringing.
Of course we want to ensure rugby is offered to girls at school moving forward, so the challenge then is making sure that we don’t lose what makes the sport inclusive and welcoming at the moment.
Our teams are always so varied and represent women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and sexualities, and ultimately, they’re all proud of who they are; that’s what I think makes women’s rugby so special.
SHM: The campaign appears to embrace uniqueness. How do you envision it promoting individuality and authenticity in a world that often pressures people to conform?
BM: The players all have extraordinary personal stories and we wanted to give them a platform to talk about them, showing that they’re more than just a rugby player.
We know they exist throughout the league, they’re trailblazers in so many ways, so wanted to bring those stories to life and allow them to be their unique selves.
We have firefighters, doctors, and so many other players all with amazing backgrounds, and the purpose of the campaign is to use them to underpin everything we do this season.
SHM: Can you provide some examples of stories or individuals who have been positively impacted by “The Powered Differently” campaign?
BM: This is the first time we’re releasing the campaign to the world with the start of the new season, so I’m excited to hear about it impacting people in positive ways over the weeks to come.
But so far the feedback has been really positive, the players involved in the campaign loved being a part of it and being able to express themselves which was job number one.
Of course my kids also think it’s great and they’re the perfect audience to make sure we’re appealing to the next generation, to make sure they stop and pay attention if they’re scrolling on social media.
SHM: What personal experiences or values do you bring to this campaign that guides its direction and success?
BM: As a mother I see first-hand the challenges that young girls face in today’s world. I want those girls who don’t feel good about themselves when using social media to see our campaign and make them think ‘you know what, I’m like them’.
It’s important that we start to change that narrative about what is a role model for young girls, and the players in the campaign are just a few examples of the amazing role models we have throughout the sport.
SHM: For those who want to get involved or support “The Powered Differently” campaign, what opportunities or actions can they take to make a difference?
BM: What we want to see is more girls getting involved in grassroots rugby, more fans turning up at stadiums and engaging with our clubs.
For the first time, you can now watch Premiership Women’s Rugby games on TNT Sports with over 20 games being broadcast throughout the season.
So if you’re even remotely interested in seeing what women’s rugby is all about, we want you to give it a try, tune in to the TV, get down to a match or follow us on social media. We want to hear from fans, get their feedback and tailor what we offer to what they want to see.
And ultimately this is all laddering up to the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup. We want to help this become a defining moment for women’s rugby like the Lionesses achieved with the 2022 Women’s Euros, and if the growth of Premiership Women’s Rugby can even play a small part in helping the Red Roses achieve success, we’ll be incredibly proud.
SHM: Looking ahead, what are the next steps and future goals for “The Powered Differently” campaign, and how can people stay engaged with its progress and initiatives?
BM: We were only set up as a new company in January this year and this is the first season as Premiership Women’s Rugby so we’re hoping this is the start of something special.
This campaign is the first of a host of things we want to achieve with the league; it’s hugely important that we continue to showcase the incredible current players but also encourage the next generation to get involved.
The first match of the new Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby season between Bristol Bears and Sale Sharks kicks-off live on TNT Sports on Saturday 18th November at 12.30 pm.