Scrum Queens



We are delighted to confirm that Pitch will publish Ali Donnelly's Scrum Queens: The Story of Women's Rugby, from 1880 to the Present Day later this year.

Ali's is the first book of its type to chart the full history of women’s rugby, and will be released on 25 July.

It tells the story of the women’s game – from its origins in the 1880s through to today, as the sport moved from widespread social disapproval to the modern era of Olympic recognition and professionalism.

Along the way, Scrum Queens takes in all the major moments in the history of women’s rugby, from games held during the War, to the first World Cup in 1991 and a momentous first appearance for women’s rugby at the 2016 Olympics.

There are tales of the pioneers who fought to get the game played in its earliest days, like New Zealand’s Nita Webbe and France’s Henry Fléchon, while the more modern-day drivers of the game, like England’s Carol Isherwood, also feature.

Scrum Queens celebrates the success and heroics of the sport’s top players and teams, with New Zealand’s dominance of the game at every level alongside their long-time rivalry with England explored, along with the more recent successes of teams such as Ireland and Fiji, and the rise of the sevens game and its impact on women’s rugby.

Author Ali Donnelly – founder and editor of – is one of women’s rugby’s most credible and authoritative voices. She has written extensively about the game for titles such as Rugby World Magazine, the Guardian, Times, Sunday Times, RTE, BBC and the Irish Examiner. She was awarded a special honour by the UK’s Rugby Writers group for her contribution to the game.

And Ali's new book has already drawn widespread praise from across the sport...

"Donnelly has created a masterpiece where the giants of women's rugby past can be recognised for their enduring commitment and sacrifice." - Sara Orchard, BBC

"A vitally important book, bringing to life the rich history of women's rugby and highlighting some of the game's true pioneers. Inspiring and thought-provoking, it is a reminder of how far the game has come and of the huge opportunities ahead – a must read." - Maggie Alphonsi, former England player

"A much-needed treasure trove of women's rugby history – insightful, informative and inspiring" - Sarah Mockford, Rugby World Editor

"The story of women's rugby has never been documented in one place, by anyone before. This thorough summar of the 130 years of history of the women's game is a fantastic testament to the progress of the women's game, and crucially it doesn't shy away from highlighting that there is still much work to be done. A much-needed book." - Melodie Robinson, former Black Fern

"This is a story of sisterhood that could only be told by one of our own. Ali pulls the history out of the heads of those who lived it and weaves this together with research from around the world. In doing so, allows the next generation of women's rugby to continue to carry the game forward, over the advantage line." - Alice Soper, Women's Rugby Advocate