Global influencers attend World Rugby Women’s Leadership Forum to discuss development of Women’s game

World Rugby, former Eagle Pam Kosanke and collection of global voices gather in Belfast, highlighting development of Women in Rugby.

BELFAST, Ire. - 2017 was a notable year for Women's Rugby, with world class competition taking the pitch during the Women's Rugby World Cup. With tournament play in the rear view, influencers from around the globe have taken aim at the future.

"World Rugby is committed to accelerating the global development of Women in Rugby both on and off the field." said World Rugby General Manager of Women's Rugby, Katie Sadleir, who also hosted the forum. "The purpose of the forum was to connect with key influencers globally, and share good practice with regard to developing the game." Sadleir continued, "World Rugby is in the process of developing a new global plan which will be finalized in November this year. The plan aims to build on the success of the current state and drive forward to new levels of results across five work streams- participation, performance & competitions, leadership, profile and investment."

A group of notable attendees included...
Brett Gosper, World Rugby CEO
Bill Pulver, World Rugby Council Member, Chairman of the Women's Advisory Committee, and CEO of the Australia Rugby Union
Anna Richards, World Rugby Hall of Famer and Hong Kong Women's Head Coach
• John Jeffrey, World Rugby Council Member, Chairman of the Rugby Committee and Executive Committee Member
Nancy Altobello, Global Vice Chair, Talent to international sport sponsor, EY
Steve Grainger, RFU Rugby Development Officer

Gosper and Pulver opened the forum with impassioned statements, saying, "Women's rugby and women in rugby, represent the single biggest growth opportunity for the sport..."

Sadleir recognizes progression in rugby participation, and praises the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup as a benchmark towards that growth, "There has been impressive increases in women of all age groups playing rugby, with a 142% increase in global participants since 2012." Said Sadleir, "The World Cup last week in Ireland took the game to a new high, with unprecedented audience exposure. 45,000 fans attended over 30 matches, while peak audience views were 3.2 million for the semifinal against France and England. Additionally, 45 million views on social media and on World Rugby sites make this the biggest engaged fan event since the Men's World Cup in 2015." Sadleir continued, regarding the United States as a key influence, "As a major market, the US has a significant impact on our global player numbers, with huge potential to grow,"

 Pam Kosanke

Former USA Rugby National 7s & 15s Team Member, Pam Kosanke, was in attendance, representing the United States as the summit took place prior to the World Cup Final. "While it was a very enlightening and monumental event, there is much work to do from here to ensure purposeful investment, action and accountability throughout World Rugby and Member Unions." said Kosanke, also an International Athlete Board Member, and current Board Member for Rugby International Marketing and The Rugby Channel, "Rugby culture and norms will fundamentally need to change to embrace diversity in modern ways."

Kosanke continued, "We are thrilled to develop the new USA Rugby Women's Leadership Committee in parallel with massive new efforts by World Rugby to invest in and support the women's game." Kosanke mentions efforts are in motion to develop the USA Rugby Women's Leadership Committee with goals and structure set as an initial focal point.  Additionally, the committee will work in conjunction with the US Women's Rugby Foundation on special projects. 

"The historic World Rugby Women's Leadership Forum in Belfast was a critical first step in organizing focused, top-down leadership, and it is now up to member rugby unions to push forward the vision at a local level." said Kosanke "Aside from championing increased opportunity and equity for women in rugby, we will be advancing the new global mission to achieve at least 30% female representation across all aspects of the game in the US. While there is much work to do, there's so much upside potential in front of us."

USA Rugby CEO, Dan Payne, is enthusiastic to see the forum align with the organizations own key strategies, "With identified opportunities in the US, it's exciting to see this assembly come together." says Payne. "It runs congruent with several objectives at USA Rugby, including but not limited to, the NCAA initiative, the USA Rugby Women's Leadership Committee, added funding towards Women's High-Performance pathways and coach development."

Payne also noted on plans to post and fill a General Manager of Women's Rugby position, within the near future.