Rugby Africa dedicate the month of May to growing women’s rugby

Rugby Africa has made May ‘Women’s Rugby Month, following the unveiling in November of World Rugby’s new strategic plan to accelerate the development of women in rugby on and off the field.

Botswana will be the focal point for women’s rugby next month when, over a 10-day period, the sport will take centre stage both on and off the pitch.

Beginning with an International Working Group on Women in Sport, from 17-20 May, the Botswana capital of Gaborone will then host a two-day forum on women’s leadership in rugby, just before the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens Championship on 26-27 May.

At the centre of the debate is the growth of women’s rugby and how that can best be managed in Africa.

While more women and girls are playing rugby than in any other region, thanks in no small part to World Rugby’s all-inclusive participation programme Get Into Rugby, there are concerns that the world’s second-largest continent is falling behind in other areas, particularly at the elite end of the game.

Africa didn't have a representative in the qualification process for Women's Rugby World Cup 2017, while South Africa claimed the region's one qualification berth for Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July.

Centres of growth

With the backing of Katie Sadleir, World Rugby's General Manager of Women's Rugby, Rugby Africa intends to address this issue and plans to work with the most motivated federations to create centres of growth for women’s rugby in Africa.

Rolande Boro, president of the Burkina Faso Rugby Union, and Maha Zaoui, General Manager of the Fédération Tunisienne de Rugby, were among the inaugural recipients of World Rugby's Women's Leadership Development Scholarship and they will carry the torch for this initiative which, it is hoped, will help create more role models for the thousands of youngsters coming into the game.

Nearly half of Africa’s Get Into Rugby participants are female (46 per cent) with 412,841 youngsters registered in 2017, and Sadleir hopes that the events taking place in Botswana can drive forward their ambitions of growing the game in the region.

“The increasing involvement of women in rugby presents the single greatest opportunity for our sport in the next decade,” she said.

“It is critical to World Rugby’s vision of a ‘sport for all, true to its values’ and its mission to grow the global family … women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth and participation levels are at an all-time high.

“Women’s rugby in Africa is leading the way in terms of numbers of female players registered globally. This important conference hosted by the Botswana Rugby Union will enable the leaders of the region to take the next step in accelerating the development of women in rugby in Africa.”

Olympic aspirations

Meanwhile, the Women’s Sevens Championship should provide a fitting finale to the gathering in Botswana.

With one eye on preparing for next year’s Olympic Games qualifiers, South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda and  hosts Botswana are expected to compete in Gaborone.

Dave Gilbert, president of the Botswana Rugby Union, is delighted that the event is being held in the country.

“It is wonderful for Botswana rugby to showcase women’s rugby and be part of the future pathway for these female athletes,” he said.

“The Botswana Rugby Union and the Botswana National Sports Commission are very excited to be organising and hosting this event which is the first of its kind in rugby in Africa.”

These events are an opportunity to develop women’s rugby in Africa and Rugby Africa President Abdelaziz Bougja sees this as a priority for the continent and the sport.

“Women’s rugby is a real challenge in terms of development and competitions,” he said. “We look forward to discussing this with the most active federations on the continent and to bringing women’s rugby up to the next level.

“Women’s rugby is without doubt top of Rugby Africa’s priorities for the years to come, since, without women, we would not be able to develop rugby, attract new fans and new players.”

Ireland's Joy Neville
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Watch LIVE rugby TODAY … Ireland v USA, RWC 2010
Ireland and the USA served up a pool-stage classic at Rugby World Cup 2010 — and you can relive all the action this Sunday.
041120 - Seven CONSUR - 020 - Brasil
Women's Sevens News Women in Rugby
Brazilian pioneers continue to open new roads as referees
Former Brazilian internationals Natasha Olsen and Cristiana Futuro Mühlbauer have risen in the refereeing ranks both in their country and the region.
Joy Neville - Rugby World Cup 2017
Women's Feature News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Between the Lines: Joy Neville
World Rugby Referee Award 2017 recipient Joy Neville joins Sean Maloney on the latest episode of the Between the Lines podcast and discusses the match officials she looks up to.
World Rugby logo - one to use for generic releases
Media release Junior Women's Men's News Women in Rugby mz-advisory
World Rugby creates access to optional domestic law trials to further reduce COVID-19 risk
The World Rugby Executive Committee has approved 10 optional law trials which are designed to provide national member unions with COVID-19 transmission risk reduction options if required.
Alhambra Nievas - Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2017 - Women's
Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Nievas: World Rugby committed to supporting female referees
World Rugby’s Referee Development Manager, Alhambra Nievas is confident that progress made in the support of female match officials can be maintained amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020 HSBC Sevens
Women's Sevens News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Watch LIVE rugby TODAY … Doubleheader at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens 2020
Fans were treated to some brilliant action as Canada, France, Australia and the USA contested two matches that had a huge bearing on the outcome of the women's tournament in Hamilton.
Sarah Abdul Baki
Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Five women in the middle
At the beginning of a referee-themed week, we look at five women who are helping to blaze a trail for female match officials.
5th Place Play-off: USA v Canada
Women's Rugby World Cup News Tournament News Women in Rugby
USA trust in basics to beat Canada at RWC 2010
World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Phaidra Knight remembers the Rugby World Cup 2010 fifth-place play-off, in which the USA edged old rivals Canada at Surrey Sports Park.
Pool C: Canada v Sweden
Olympics Women's News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Between the Lines: Heather Moyse
World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Heather Moyse opens up about her double life as an international rugby player and Olympic bobsledder on a special episode of the Between the Lines podcast.
World Rugby Council Meeting
Women's Feature News Tournament News Women in Rugby
Palmer leads by example in New Zealand
World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Farah Palmer discusses her career in the game, life in the boardroom and her hopes for Rugby World Cup 2021.