Exciting Plans Womens Rugby, International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset outlined the IRB’s strategic vision to boost participation and elite competition in Women’s Rugby to delegates attending the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport in Los Angeles, USA.
Under the central theme of ‘Together Stronger: The Future of Sport’, Lapasset highlighted the strategies the IRB and its Member Unions are delivering to further the role and influence of women in Rugby worldwide as preparation for Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games 2016 gathers pace.
The IOC Conference was attended by over 800 delegates from 135 countries with Rugby presenting as one of the two newest members of the Olympic Family. Both Rugby Sevens and Golf will start their involvement in the Olympic Games with equal participation of male and female athletes. Women’s Rugby is one of the fastest-growing forms of the Game with over 200,000 registered women actively competing in Fifteens and Sevens and 800,000 women and girls participating in leisure Rugby in all its forms around the world.
Speaking under the heading ‘Getting it Right from the Start’, Lapasset, accompanied by IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty, presented on the significant progress made in Women’s Rugby over the past five years, the development and implementation of the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan and harnessing the Olympic opportunity.
“The IRB is committed to the ongoing development of Women’s Rugby. These are exciting times and the sport has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years and the IOC’s decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympic programme has significantly boosted participation and interest worldwide.”
“We are always striving to better our processes, structures and competitions to ensure that our female athletes have the same opportunities as men and boys. In that regard we have developed the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan which is providing the blueprint for growth, increased competition and high performance structures as we count down to Rio 2016.”
“The opportunity to be able to present at this key forum was a really strong endorsement of the IRB’s policies, programmes and commitment to furthering the Women’s Game worldwide. It was fascinating to see what other sports are doing and collectively discuss the opportunities and challenges that face all sports.”
Following extensive consultation with Member Unions last year, the IRB set out a clear vision for growing the Women’s Game in the IRB Women’s Rugby Plan launched in December 2011. The goals set out in the Plan are to increase participation globally, deliver an excellent Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 and to deliver a world-class event at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 by focussing resources on competition, high performance and participation.
“We are already working closely with the IOC, ASOIF and others to collaborate, learn and share best practice with our colleagues in other International Federations to try and maximise the benefit of the decision for all,” said Carty.
“We are determined to get it right from the start and following the IOC’s decision in 2009 began a seven-year countdown to Rio. When the first Olympic Games Rugby Sevens tournament kicks off, we want to be sure that we have made the right decisions and followed the right path to get Women’s Rugby Sevens to where it deserves to be and contribute to what promises to be a fantastic Olympic Games.”
“A key focus for us is developing a global competition framework so the best players face each other in regular elite competition and we are striving to establish further opportunities for this using our existing Sevens competition structure.”
Rugby was again represented at the last plenary session of the Conference, ‘Growing up in a Gender-Balanced Sporting Society’. Ten Young Ambassadors and Young Reporters for the Youth Olympic Games shared their views and opinions on the future of women in sport from a youth perspective. Kwanieze John, an IOC Youth Ambassador and Rugby player from Trinidad and Tobago, was one of the 10.
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