World in their Hands


‘A hilarious, thoroughly interesting and endearing read about those who paved the way for women’s rugby today. One of the best rugby stories in history – men’s or women’s – told perfectly’ – Jessica Hayden, The Times

‘A remarkable and inspirational story’ – Sarah Mockford, Rugby World 

Thomas has done brilliantly to unearth a treasure trove of important stories from those who have made women’s rugby what it is today. An extraordinary, empowering and truly engaging read’ – Fiona Tomas, The Telegraph

‘An uplifting and outstanding effort to tell the story of the amazing pioneers behind the 1991 World Cup. This is a story that deserved its own spotlight and Martyn has done a terrific job in bringing it all together’ – Ali Donnelly, Scrumqueens


World in their Hands recounts the remarkable events that led to a group of friends from 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 helped catalyse the growth of the women’s game in the UK. The organisers overcame numerous obstacles before, during and after the World Cup, including ingrained misogyny, motherhood, a recession, the Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

This book is a celebration of female achievement in the face of adversity. It is not only the account of a group of inspirational women who planted their flag in turf previously reserved for men, but of their peers and the generations before them who 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 South Africa, 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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