Women in Rugby Clubs Toolkit helps Kiwi clubs capitalise on Rugby World Cup 2021 interest

We caught up with Rugby World Cup 2021 Leverage and Legacy Manager, Danika Charlton to talk about the toolkit and its importance to growing female participation in New Zealand.

Last year, as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was being felt around the world, a resource dedicated to the growth of female participation appeared on the New Zealand Rugby website.

The brainchild of Sarah McIlroy, the Women in Rugby Clubs Toolkit is designed to help clubs become a more accessible space for women and girls.

McIlroy, who currently works for NZR as its Women’s Rugby Participation Manager — Northern Region, had the idea while she was working in a development role for the North Harbour Rugby Union.

Having canvassed the clubs in her local area, she identified three key areas that needed to be addressed in order to encourage increased female participation at all levels of the game.

The toolkit therefore sets out to show clubs how they can include women in leadership roles, provide good quality coaching as well as equitable access to facilities and support.

“She talked to a whole lot of her rugby clubs around, you know, where were the opportunities for clubs to get in behind and support the game,” Rugby World Cup 2021 Leverage and Legacy Manager, Danika Charlton told World Rugby. 

“The three areas of leadership, coaching and facilities popped out every single time. So she put that forward to New Zealand Rugby and then we sort of picked it up from there.”

Easy to use and understand

In order to highlight the steps that clubs could take, McIlroy spoke to each of NZR’s regional development officers to unearth relatable examples. 

The toolkit includes three case studies that show exactly how change can be made at a club level.

“They’re great case studies,” Charlton said. “They're things that the club down the road can relate to and ‘if the club up the road can put it in place, then we can too’ kind of thing.”

Charlton was working on plans for the RWC 2021 Trophy Tour when she was first alerted to the toolkit, and thought it was perfect to use as the “backbone” for that event.

“It was just a really nice alignment,” she said. “We were looking at how we could encourage clubs to reflect on what they were doing for the girls’ game. 

“And, then I suppose use it as a bit of a call to action in terms of reminding them about some of the things that they could do that were really simple and easy to achieve.”

Charlton added: “We didn't want it to be another toolkit where it just sat on the website or, you know, in the shelves. 

“We wanted something that was really easy to use, really easy to understand, and something that we could supercharge, you know, through being able to leverage off Rugby World Cup.”

Lasting RWC 2021 legacy

The result is a resource that NZR hopes clubs can use to help them make the most of the increased interest in rugby, and the women’s game, that will result from RWC 2021.

“We expect there to be a huge interest and following post-Rugby World Cup,” Charlton said. 

“So, we want clubs and provincial unions across the country to be ready to be able to capitalise off the back of that. 

“We want them to think now about how they make the most of that opportunity, so that we're just not focusing on just running another event. 

“We want it to have a lasting legacy where we can really leverage off it, and we want clubs to be ready to think about how they attract and how they capture an interest. 

“We want them to think about, you know, do they have the right facilities to be able to retain the girls once they come into the club? Is it a safe environment for the girls and women to be part of? 

“Do they have a coach [or] do they have a plan for getting a coach for the girls' and women's team, should they suddenly get four or five teams at their back doorstep wanting to play?”

Charlton hopes to re-launch the toolkit in a few months’ time once plans for the RWC 2021 Trophy Tour have been finalised.

She aims to include further case studies to highlight work that is currently being done, such as the upgrading of RWC 2021 match and training venues to be more gender equal.

There are plans, too, to share the toolkit with the five Pacific nations that the Trophy Tour will pass through, Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.

Ultimately, Charlton says it would be an “amazing legacy to leave behind” if similar women in rugby toolkits were not necessary in the future.

Although she admits there is a lot of water that needs to flow “under the bridge before we get to that point”.

“There's a lot of mindset changes and there's a lot of changes within the environments,” she added. 

“A number of clubs are there already, some are on the path to changing and there's some that still have a fair amount of work to do.

“But, in the future, absolutely, that would be a great goal to have.”

READ MORE: Vania Wolfgramm empowering women in New Zealand through Ako Wāhine programme >>

Last updated: May 14, 2021, 9:00:18 AM
HK women's sevens head coach Iain Monaghan
wr-women-news-sevens sevens-news-women wr-news-olympics-repechage-teams sevens wr-news-sevens Olympic Qualifying wr-news-olympics-w Olympics wr-news wr-women-news wr-news-olympics-m sevens-news-men
Olympic Repechage contenders Hong Kong have already conquered their ‘Everest’
Hong Kong’s women have been ‘moving mountains’ in a bid to be in the best possible shape for the World Rugby Olympic Sevens Repechage in Monaco on 18-20 June.
Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019: South Africa v Kenya - CREDIT: Gallo Images
wr-women-news-regions wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news wr-women-news-power Womens
South Africa “no longer just a follower” when it comes to gender diversity in rugby
We spoke to World Rugby Council member Vanessa Doble about the constitutional amendments SA Rugby has made to increase female representation in its governance structures.
Maria Thomas
wr-women-news-regions wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news Feature wr-women-news-power Womens
Maria Thomas putting scholarship lessons into practice as Trinidad and Tobago RFU’s first female president
We caught up with the World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient following her historic election win.
WIR_Landscape_Scrum
wr-news wr-women-news mz-advisory RWC2021 Rugby World Cup wr-women-news-2021
World Rugby welcomes Mastercard as founding global partner of Women in Rugby and unveils new marketing campaign
World Rugby has announced details of a transformative five-year partnership with Mastercard and has also launched its new Team Powered marketing campaign.
Photo of players running out at a Japan rugby test event
wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news wr-news-asia wr-news-sevens
Japan sevens chief hopes Tokyo Olympics continues cycle of success
With 50 days to go until the men’s final of the Olympic rugby sevens competition, Japan head coach Kensuke Iwabuchi looks forward to competing on home soil in Tokyo.
Amanda Cox
wr-women-news-regions wr-women-news-coach wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news Feature Womens
Amanda Cox on the fight for more female representation in refereeing
We caught up with the referee coach to discuss her life in rugby and find out what needs to be done to create more opportunities for women to become match officials.
Photo of the France and Tunisia sides during a training camp at Marcoussis
Olympics wr-news Women's wr-women-news wr-news-olympics-repechage-teams sevens Team News Womens
The "Rebellious" preparing to fly the Tunisian flag in Monaco
As we reach 50 days to the rugby sevens kick-off at the Tokyo Olympics, the Tunisian women's rugby sevens team prepares to play their second World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco, with ambitions beyond Tokyo 2020.
Argentine 7s captain Gimena Mattus attacks during the 2019 Pan American Games.
wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news Feature wr-news-sevens Preview Olympic Qualifying
Argentina looking to end a difficult two years with history at Monaco sevens showdown
Argentina won't be flying into Monaco's Olympic Repechage as favourites, but that isn't stopping their dreams of Tokyo, as coach Tomás Bongiorno and captain Gime Mattus tell World Rugby.
Germany win Lodz Sevens 2019
wr-news-sevens wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news
Germany look to new generation to defend Rugby Europe men’s sevens crown
Germany men’s sevens head coach Damian McGrath speaks to World Rugby ahead of the start of the Rugby Europe Championship Sevens Series.
HSBC New Zealand Sevens 2020 - Women's
sevens-news wr-women-news-sevens Women's sevens-news-women sevens wr-news-sevens sevens-news-feature sevens-news-olympic wr-news-olympics-w Olympics wr-news wr-women-news Tournament News Womens
Emilee Cherry: Five memorable moments from the career of a rugby sevens pioneer
Following the announcement that Cherry will hang up her boots prior to the Tokyo Olympics, we recap some of her best moments in the green and gold of Australia.