Being female not an issue in men's rugby - sports doc

May 12, 2023

Being female not an issue in men's rugby - sports doc

Blues doctor Zoe Prichard says that challenge is a mindset and gender shouldn’t be a factor in decision making. Photo: Mae MacDonald

When it comes to rugby, women are equal to their male colleagues says a female rugby union doctor.

Blues team doctor Zoe Prichard says gender bias is not an issue for female New Zealand Rugby Union employees, as professionalism is valued over gender stereotypes.

She points to the growing number of females in the rugby industry, despite its predominantly male following.

“Even just within the Blues, we have strength and conditioning staff as well as nutritionist staff who are female, so it is definitely becoming more common,” she says.

Having been raised in an environment structured on meritocracy, Prichard is proud to say that she doesn’t feel as though her gender influences how she conducts herself in the workplace.

“I’ve never seen myself as a female in a male environment, I’ve more seen myself as a doctor in a medical role.

“Even as a doctor in the hospital, I’d be dealing with patients of all demographics and being a male vs female shouldn’t have a huge bearing on that, because with any patient or player, you’re always going to be appropriate,” she says.

Blues player Sam Darry says that having a female doctor on their team enhances the team culture.

“It’s a lot of fun having Zoe on our team. She brings so much to the table that a male doctor may not be able to offer,” he says.

Darry says that Prichard’s gender leaves him “completely unphased".

“I’m probably a bit more careful to not be offensive with my language but that’s how it should be anyway,” he says.

For Prichard, it wasn’t a passion for the sport that drew her to practicing sports medicine but the independence and new challenges that the role brings.

“Besides already liking [treating] injuries and everything from muscular-skeletal, soft tissue, head injuries, and things like that, I really liked the idea of being independent in my practice, being outside of the hospital and being with limited resources,” Prichard says.

However, that doesn’t stop her from marvelling at the level of health and ability that she deals with on a day-to-day basis with the Blues.

Prichard says it is easy to get overwhelmed when working in the hospital systems, so being on the rugby field and working with elite athletes is incredibly inspiring.

Zoe Prichard discusses how fun it is to work in New Zealand Rugby. Video: Mae MacDonald

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