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World Rugby leadership scholarships drive gender parity on International Women’s Day

  • World Rugby implementing Women’s Plan 2017-25 in partnership with unions
  • World Rugby Leadership Development Scholarships set to maximise talented women in rugby
  • Global rugby community celebrating #IWD2018 and #PressforProgress

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018, World Rugby is proud to announce the inaugural recipients of its Leadership Development Scholarships. 

The scholarships, introduced as a key objective of World Rugby’s wider strategy to accelerate the global development of women in rugby, aim to maximise the rugby leadership potential of talented women currently working in the game.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Press for Progress. Under World Rugby’s scheme, a total of US$335,000 will be awarded in scholarships to inspiring female leaders across World Rugby’s six regional associations over the next two years. The scholarships can be used to enhance the professional development of the successful applicants through a variety of opportunities such as formal or informal education, conferences, workshops, mentoring, secondments, or best practice study tours.

The first seven scholarship recipients are:

  • Ada Milby (Philippines) – Member of World Rugby Council and the Asia Rugby Executive Committee, Secretary General of the Philippine Rugby Football Union and former captain of Philippines in sevens and 15s
  • Samantha Feausi (Hong Kong) – Head of Women’s Rugby Development for Hong Kong Rugby Union and former Hong Kong captain in sevens and 15s
  • Maha Zaoui (Tunisia) – General Manager of the Fédération Tunisienne de Rugby and member of the Executive Board, responsible for women’s rugby 
  • Rolande Boro (Burkina Faso) – President of the Fédération Burkinabe de Rugby and former Burkina Faso player 
  • Dr Araba “Roo” Chintoh (Canada) – Provincial Director and member of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors who played for Canada at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2002 
  • Jillion Potter (USA) – A player for USA for nearly 10 years, who played at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in 15s and led Team USA to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in sevens 
  • Maria Thomas (Trinidad and Tobago) – Honorary Secretary and member of the Trinidad and Tobago Rugby Football Union Executive Committee, a former sevens player for Trinidad and Tobago

Further recipients from Oceania Rugby, Sudamérica Rugby and Rugby Europe will be announced later in the year.

Since the launch of World Rugby’s ground-breaking Women’s Plan 2017-25 in November last year, the international federation has been working with unions and regional associations to review gender inclusiveness in governance and management and to put in place proactive strategies to develop good practice. 

Part of this has been to design and implement targeted leadership development programmes to identify and support the current and next generation of female leaders. World Rugby is also helping run regional leadership forums and developing a good practice governance resource for regions and unions.

World Rugby’s mission is to drive forward gender-balance in the sport by ensuring women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and make highly valued contributions to participation, performance, leadership and investment in the global game.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “On International Women’s Day World Rugby joins the global call to action to press for progress on gender parity. The promotion of women in rugby is a top priority for World Rugby following the launch of our landmark 2017-2025 Women’s Plan. We remain committed to accelerating the development of women at all levels of the game, both on and off the field of play.”

Serge Simon, the new Chair of the World Rugby Women’s Advisory Committee, said: “It is pleasing to see the ongoing work of the Women’s Advisory Committee being realised in such a positive and impactful way on International Women’s Day. These scholarships will make a big difference to the development of female leaders in our regions and unions and have a significant knock-on effect for the governance of game, representing an important step forward in our ambition to bring greater gender balance to rugby.”

World Rugby General Manager of Women’s Rugby Katie Sadleir added: “Under our strategic Women’s Plan, we are determined to be a global leader in sport, with governance and management processes setting the standard for good practice. We firmly believe that inspirational role models will attract future leaders. That is why we are proud to announce the first Leadership Development Scholarships on International Women’s Day as we continue to drive forward progress on gender balance in rugby.”


(Source: World Rugby Press Release)

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