Oceania holds inaugural Women's Leadership Workshop

The inaugural Oceania Women's Rugby Leadership Workshop took place in Fiji last week, attended by coaches, medical officials, development manager and women in leadership roles.

The inaugural Oceania Rugby Women’s Leadership Workshop formed part of a Super Week attended by professionals across the sport of rugby comprising of coaches, medical officials, technical officials, development managers and also women in leadership.

The workshop was held in Fiji as part of an initiative announced by World Rugby in 2017, designed to accelerate the global and regional development of women in rugby with the awarding of four Executive Leadership Scholarships to women from the Oceania region earlier this year in Cybele Druma (Papua New Guinea), Vela Naucukidi (Fiji), Cate Sexton (New Zealand) and Jane Schmitt (Australia).

Twenty-five people from across Oceania and scholarship recipients from Ukraine (Irina Arkhytska) and Uganda (Regina Lunyolo) attended the three-day workshop last week. Fiji sevens star Litia Naiqato was also in attendance to discuss her involvement in the Unstoppables campaign that launched World Rugby's new 'Women in Rugby' and 'Try and Stop Us' campaign in May.

World Rugby's General Manager for Women's Rugby Katie Sadleir attended the workshop, the latest one to take place around the world after events in Botswana, Spain, Paraguay and Bangkok over the last 18 months, while Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle and New Zealand Rugby's Chief Operating Officer Nicki Nicol were keynote speakers.

“Quite often when you’re working in countries that are separated by water and distance, you feel like you’re on your own – trying to think of new ideas and opportunities by yourself and this workshop has connected people from across countries and across unions to share and continue to share what has been successful in terms of making a difference for girls and women,” Sadleir said.

“I think this is the first of a very special group of people coming together to talk about how they can accelerate the growth of women in rugby in Oceania.” 

An unforgettable experience

Bruce Cook, World Rugby's Regional Services Manager for Oceania, said that it was important that each of the participants in the workshop walked away knowing that they were critical in the development and the growth of the game in Oceania.

“It’s been a fantastic three days, the presenters have been really good, there have been a lot of addresses, we had Raelene Castle, the Chief Executive of Australia Rugby, here and she was outstanding,” Cook said.

“There has been a broad spectrum of people here looking at leadership and different aspects of leadership so it’s been a tremendous couple days.

One of the scholarship recipients Naucukidi shared how her involvement has helped her seek out experiences and learn from the other female leaders in rugby as they exchanged a lot of learnings and experiences during the workshop.

“They were sharing their ideas and what they are currently doing, especially in New Zealand and Australia, and it’s really an honour to hear the from CEO of Rugby Australia Raelene Castle and the challenges she has had to manage,” Naucukidi said.

“Being in this workshop has been quite overwhelming. I’m more relaxed now as I was in the same room with academics, board members, CEOs from all over the Oceania region but all in all it was an unforgettable experience.”

The workshop also provided the opportunity for participants to experienced firsthand the Get Into Rugby PLUS programme that is being delivered by Oceania Rugby in partnership with the European Union, the Australian Government and the UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office. The programme combines the successful global participation programme with the development of life skills. 

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