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In 2017, a group of women rugby coaches, players, and others involved in the sport, met at a winter Forum and founded the Women’s Rugby Leadership Council as a separate and distinct organization to advance rugby for women in America.
The mission statement follows:
- Develop strategies to ensure better access, exposure, and financial resources at all levels;
- Implement coherent internal and external marketing, media, and education campaigns, including, alliances and collaborations with partners;
- Advocate for steward clear/consistent pathways for female coaches, referees, players, administrators and journalists;
- Support strong female leadership and representation at all levels of rugby (local, national and international governing boards):
- Ensure that equal opportunity and equal ability are assumed in the election and appointment of individuals involved in the governance of rugby;
- Foster a culture of professionalism, accountability and sustained excellence at the highest levels; and,
- Advocate for equal opportunity and pay in hiring and consideration for administrative and coaching positions.
Two leaders were chosen to oversee the beginnings of the organization via building the structure for membership: Kerri Heffernan and Maxine Jackson. Laura Cabrera will head the establishment of a Women’s Rugby Coaches Association. Finally, well known journalist Jackie Finland was hired for communication and media strategy.
The 2018 goals were set down as growing the organization to 35% representation on the USAR Board, increasing USAR investment in the two national Women’s sides, and the appointment of a Woman’s High-Performance Director. The last objective has been achieved with the recent selection of Emilie Bydwell in that position.
The Leadership Council will meet again the first week in December in Atlanta to review next steps, including how to reach a target of 500 dues paying members.
As rugby proliferates, and with women’s colleges leading the path to NCAA membership, this new organization is poised to become a powerful voice advocating positively for Women's rugby in America.