The ‘Leadership Work Stream’ covers embracing women’s involvement in governance, senior management, coaching and match official capacity. There have been many new leadership appointments in unions over the past 12 months accountable for driving forward women’s rugby RFU head of women’s performance Nicky Ponsford was recently appointed chair of the European women’s rugby commission. In a new project focused on developing and supporting women high-performance coaches, Carol Isherwood of World Rugby Hall of Fame will be leading this area.

Last year during the Women’s World Cup in Ireland, World Rugby canvased 14 unions and  the six regional associations on the numbers of women involved in coaching the national teams (15s and 7s).

At that time only one union, Hong Kong, had a national team being coached by a woman and only four unions had women involved in an assistant coaching capacity.

World Rugby would like to:

  • Develop a more in-depth understanding of the status of women in elite rugby coaching roles globally.
  • Investigate the challenges and opportunities to increase the numbers and or % of women coaching (women and men’s teams) at an elite performance level.
  • Identify good practice programmes or strategies in place within rugby and othersporting codes which have been successful in developing elite women coaches.
  • Provide recommendations and suggestions for consideration at a global, regional and union level to accelerate the development of women in elite coaching.

RFU digital, marketing and communications director Joanna Manning-Cooper is also a member of the communications, marketing and commercial (CMC) advisory group to help develop the work outlined in the profile and investment work streams in the global women’s plan.

“The women’s commission has had a number of people on it from Six Nations and other nations from Europe, so it is taking in different experiences,” said Ponsford.

“It is how we can use models of good practice from all of those countries and how we can feed that into the game as a whole across Europe.

“The women’s game is growing, developing and getting a higher profile, so it’s more important now than ever before to make sure the women’s commission is helping to drive the development of the game. We’re in a hugely exciting time. From an England perspective, we’ve got the Tyrrells Premier 15s, more people playing, sponsors taking more interest in what we’re doing, we’re taking the game around the country, so anything I can do to share what we’re doing and help other countries is something that I really want to do.

“I genuinely want more countries to be competitive and raise the profile of their games and improve their development.”