As a country which does not suffer extreme weather too often, Britain was brought to a standstill last week by the arrival of Storm Ciara.
People stayed in their houses as heavy rain lashed down and strong winds blew debris into the streets, while trains across the country were cancelled. (It was business as usual at insidethegames, of course).
The storm also played havoc with the sporting calendar. The Premier League clash between Manchester City and West Ham was called off, as were all six FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) matches. Rugby was also affected, with one match of the prestigious Women's Six Nations tournament postponed.
Some sport still took place, however, with Ireland taking on Wales at Dublin’s Energia Park in the women’s Six Nations. Playing conditions were unenviable, with both teams battling on through ice winds and hailstorms.
Ireland claimed a 31-12 victory, but what made headlines was a lack of hot water, and subsequently hot showers, for the Welsh team in their changing room after the match.
The reaction was strong enough to force the Irish Rugby Football Union into an apology for the situation, with the organisation confirming there was “an issue with the water heater” and that every effort had been made to resolve the problem.
This has not been the only controversy to swirl around the women’s tournament this year, which features England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The postponed match between England and Scotland eventually took place behind closed doors at Murrayfield, drawing criticism from fans and players who felt the lack of a crowd left the teams shortchanged.
The competition also does not have a title sponsor like the men’s and does not have any prize money for its participants.
This has always been the case in the event’s 24-year history, but it is only with the increased scrutiny and coverage of women’s rugby that the inequality has come to light.
This is probably also the case with the cold shower situation.
Teams in the women’s Six Nations are now playing in more substantial venues. Just a quick Google revealed that in 2009, England played their home matches on a rugby pitch in Richmond Park, while 10 years later, they came up against Scotland at the world-renowned Twickenham Stadium.
Cold showers are now less likely to be an issue because the standard of venue has improved, but that is not to say it did not happen in the past. If female international rugby players had indeed previously suffered the hardship of a cold shower after a match, they did not have the platform to complain about the injustice. This time it did not go unnoticed due to the level of attention now given to women’s rugby.
A similar situation is taking place in women’s football.
Despite England’s FA WSL being one of the most advanced leagues for women’s football in the world, teams are still having to play on sub-standard pitches. This is particularly the case for Liverpool FC Women.
While millions of pounds of investment has gone into training facilities and a state-of-the-art pitch for the men’s side, the women’s team have been playing at Prenton Park, home of League One’s Tranmere Rovers. Liverpool have had to move or postpone a number of their FAWSL games after their pitch became unplayable. A deluge of matches and bad weather left it akin to a mudbath.
Again, poor pitch standards are nothing new in women’s football. But the increased coverage of the sport means there is again more exposure given to issues such as these.
Comments from the Chelsea FC Women's manager Emma Hayes regarding the Prenton Park pitch made headlines in December.
"This pitch shouldn't be part of our league," she said, as reported by the Daily Mail.
"Our league deserves better standards and I think Liverpool Football Club - champions of Europe - should provide their women's team with significantly more than they're doing.
"I think the quality of that pitch - the worst in the league - is a stain on their football club."
Such was the platform given to the comments that Hayes later felt the need to apologise for her choice of words.
With the issue once again rearing its head, however, anger has now been directed at Liverpool and their seeming lack of investment in their women’s team. Things were worsened when Liverpool had to play their clash against Arsenal in Chester, nearly 20 miles from their home ground.
The furore has been such that Liverpool chairman Peter Moore released a statement promising that the club would "find a solution to provide our LFC Women with the surface they deserve." Once players would have had to make do with bad playing conditions, but they can now make a fuss and try to improve their situation.
Look anywhere in women's sport and stories are finally being told about the inequalities taking place around the world.
An obvious example is the United States women soccer team's campaign for equal pay, which has been boosted by an increased appetite and respect for women's football.
At the other end of the spectrum, it was recently revealed the Jamaican side who appeared at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup in France are still awaiting payment and bonuses as per their contracts. Again, this is something that may not have necessarily been reported on in the past, but now makes headlines. Same again for the Zimbabwean netball team who had to sleep on the floor at a training camp for the Netball World Cup in July.
Of course, it is all well and good that these inequalities are now being exposed, but action must be taken to rectify such problems. As seen with the Irish Rugby Football Union and Liverpool FC, sufficient scrutiny can encourage change.
In addition, there is still much to improve on in terms of adequately covering women's sport. This is just the beginning. As coverage increases further, an equal playing field will become more likely, both literally and figuratively,
With any luck, a female rugby star will never have to take a cold shower after an international match again.