Women’s Rugby takes centre stage this month as Fiji Rugby celebrates the growing participation and involvement of women in the sport.
With a number of women’s rugby festivals to take place around the country, CEO John O’Connor says the union is fortunate to have a substantial number of women involved in almost all facets of the game.
“Apart from our player database, we have women involved in administration, operations, medical, and judicial who have been doing a great job and certainly leading as example,” O’Connor explained.
Fiji Rugby continues to see a steady increase of women’s participation each year.
“We currently have 640 registered players participating in the 8 Skipper Cup and 16 Vodafone Vanua Championship teams this year,” O’Connor added.
The intensive competition displayed in both tournaments speaks volumes of the calibre of women now playing the sport.
“It has become even more interesting this year with our Fiji Airways Fijiana side now qualified for the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand,” O’Connor said.
Women’s High-Performance Unit
Fiji Rugby has now established a Women’s High-Performance Unit through the assistance of World Rugby.
A total of 30 players have been inducted into the program and are working closely with the FRU’s Elite Player Pathway Manager Viliame Gadolo.
This investment is the union’s commitment to lifting the level of women’s rugby and strengthening inclusivity of the game in Fiji.
“When I first joined the FRU back in 2013 there wasn’t enough support and inclusivity for the women’s’ game and since then we’ve set out a plan to turn this around,” O’Connor said.
“As a result, we qualified for the 2016 Olympics Games and last year we managed to book a spot in the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand,” O’Connor mentioned.
Increase in participation figures
The “Get into Rugby” program since 2017 has since seen a huge increase of girls’ participation.
FRU’s National Development Manager Koli Sewabu said there has been an increase of about 5426 girls since 2017, where the number was 13,633.
“We have noted a lot of interest coming in from school girls and this is reflected in the current data with 600 girls now registered to participate in the Secondary Schools Tournament,” Sewabu added.
He said the players aside there are currently 256 women undergoing Training and Education courses as well.
Rugby Festivals planned nationwide
A series of festivals have been planned nationwide this month to celebrate women in rugby.
FRU’s Women’s Development Manager Vela Naucukidi said rugby refresher courses have also been organised.
“We have the Rugby Mum’s program starting next Monday followed by the Tagimoucia Festival in Taveuni on 19 September,” Naucukidi said.
Naucukidi said the World Rugby Level 2 Women’s <??> refresher course is planned for 23 and 24 September.