From The Vaults

17 April 2023
Meet the force behind the formation of Wasps Women

Sue Martineau, nee Bennett, played back row for Wasps, Loughborough, and England B, with only a broken arm preventing her from playing for the national team. Explore how this influential woman changed the rugby landscape in the 1980s...


Wasps not only welcomed the women's team to share their facilities, but wanted to fully integrate the women's side into the club, importantly granting the right for the women to wear the famous black and gold. Wasps Ladies established a new model for setting up women's teams within existing rugby clubs - prior to 1985, the majority of women's rugby teams were still clustered around the universities, with the notable exception of Magor Maidens in Wales and Finchley in North London.

Captained by Martineau, Wasps went on to become a formidable force in women's rugby. Wasps won the 1988 Cup Final with a resounding victory over Richmond (34-6), and completed the double by taking the sevens by storm as well.

Martineau spoke passionately in the press about the support Wasps offered to the women's team and the ridiculousness of some of the stigma or ignorance women's rugby players sometimes faced: "In many ways there was more feeling against us at college. I think that as men get older they are less likely to feel that their masculinity is being threatened by women's rugby. Wasps have made us feel at home. […] We are always getting asked about what happens when we get hit in certain places, do we wear special bras and so on. Men have certain sensitive areas too but that doesn't stop them playing."


Wasps remained a force within women's rugby in England for over 30 years, but have struggled significantly with the club going into administration in 2022. The long and proud history of the women's side will no doubt inspire the members to resourcefully respond to the current financial difficulties.