IRFB Women's Advisory Committee Development Plan
SWOT Analysis
Critical Success Factors
Competitive Position
IRFB Development Plan
Performance Goals
Performance Goal Priorities
Women's Rugby Manual


Aims of IRFB Women's Rugby to 2001
1. To encourage participation of women in playing, coaching, refereeing and administration
2. To promote women's rugby nationally and internationally
3. To integrate women's rugby into all relevant aspects of the IRFB's operation

Diagram 1 - Inter-relationships

Note: These three aims are listed in rank order however the three are inter-related as the Diagram 1 shows.

Stakeholders - Women's Rugby
Definition: Those stakeholders listed as internal stakeholders are those directly involved in the Game while external stakeholders are those contributing from outside the direct rugby environment

Internal External
Law Makers
Medical Support
Government - at all levels
Sources of Funding
Facility Providers
Educational Institutions
Armed Services

Women's Rugby - A SWOT Analysis

The Strengths of Women's Rugby
  • Part of existing organisation and existing structures
  • Young sport for women, it has novelty value
  • The number of players is growing rapidly
  • Those involved have few preconceived ideas inhibiting development
  • Women's players play for a longer time than male players
  • Women players learn the game very quickly and achieve more over the same time
  • Those involved in women's rugby are persistent, dedicated and committed
  • Media interest currently based on women playing a "male" sport is an excellent way of recruiting women into rugby
  • Women's rugby is able to use the substantial knowledge developed in men's rugby to make rapid progress
  • Women involved in rugby bring excellent administrative skills to the game and are often well educated professionals
  • Rugby is a community game that has wide appeal and a culture that involves families, both genders and those of all ages
  • Women's rugby is played internationally by an expanding number of unions offering international competition
  • Women's rugby offers women a contact sport played by a team of people of varying abilities
  • There is great enthusiasm amongst all those involved from which rugby can benefit
  • Increased focus on women athletes
  • A disparity of playing ages in one team so that women learn to relate to those who are not in their age group
  • In women's rugby there are multiple points of entry so that recruitment can take place at many ages without the recruit feeling inexpert or out of place in a rugby environment
  • As a new sport based on existing structures there is the opportunity to plan comprehensively

The Weaknesses of Women's Rugby
  • An inequitably low share of resources is made available from the parent union - financially, technically and administratively
  • Obscurity of the game generally and amongst women in particular
  • Resistance to integration of Women's Rugby into the male game by the parent union
  • Women playing a contact sport is contrary to the culture of many societies
  • At present the numbers playing in countries is small, they are often spread out and the number of countries playing is small ( 24) and spread making contact and competition expensive
  • Lack of depth in the number of administrators. The load falls on a few shoulders
  • The image of rugby especially in non-traditionally rugby countries as a violent, brutal sport in which socialising and abuse of alcohol play a big part in the Game
  • A lack of information on rugby in society
  • The media focuses on the novel and different rather than regarding the game as an accepted women's sport
  • A network of contacts has not been established. Contact via national unions is inefficient
  • Lack of grass-roots development in pre-teenage and teenage women's rugby
  • Differences in the level of acceptance and integration with governing body between countries which may create mismatches detrimental to International Competition
  • There is a high level of competition for players from other sports
  • Sport in general and rugby in particular is restricted in schools
  • Retention of players as they progress from pre-teenage mixed rugby to teenage women's rugby and when they move from age grade to open grade rugby
  • The lack of competitions
  • The media's neglect of women's sport
  • The small number of participants

The Opportunities Facing Women's Rugby
  • Enormous numbers of girls not yet playing
  • To use existing structures/knowledge to make rapid progress
  • To get organisation/communication systems internationally right to bring all of women's rugby together
  • To recruit former players as coaches and referees as more retire from playing
  • To improve publicity, media relations
  • To take advantage of government and women in sport initiatives
  • To use the game as a team building exercise in companies
  • To improve knowledge of funding possibilities
  • To manage anticipated moves into professional rugby
  • Promotion and marketing of events
  • To promote the game as a vehicle for individual personal development
  • To increase the promotion of safety of the game
  • To increase data on sport awareness amongst women
  • IRFB acknowledgement of women's rugby by recognising its status
  • Introduction of the game to parents and teachers
  • Increase "new image" rugby in pre-teenage grades
  • To undertake development tours to nearby countries by teams who will provide well matched competition

The Threats Facing Women's Rugby
  • Non acceptance of rugby as a women's sport
  • Media perception as a curiosity to get something different
  • Own ability to communicate the game limited by the attitude of the parent body and a lack of resources
  • Management of growth with the influx of women into rugby in growing numbers
  • Lack of funds
  • "Lip service" from unions at all levels
  • Complexity of game makes it difficult for people to understand
  • More choices of sport for women to play
  • Lack of support for salaried people who can follow up and who are accountable
  • Mismatches as some teams improve quicker than others
  • Lack of good coaching
  • Women's working environments?
  • Sexism
  • Management of professionalism

Critical Success Factors
  • Improved administration
  • Improved funding
  • Manageable programmes
  • Recruitment and retention of increased participation
  • Improving national support
  • Improving the playing and coaching standard
  • Improved media coverage
  • Increase the appeal of the Game and access to playing the Game
  • Improve the appeal of the Game as an entertainment
  • Sponsorship
  • Government Funding
  • Qualified coaching and encouragement to become accredited coaches
  • Recruitment, retention and training of officials
  • Safety issues - coaching, information, public awareness
  • Network of contacts
  • Improved knowledge of funding possibilities
  • Management of growth
  • Retention and recruitment in Women's Age Grade Rugby
  • School rugby
  • Marketing of women's rugby events
  • Management of Professional women's rugby
  • Database, handbook, records - updating, maintenance, access - results, venues, itineraries, tournaments etc.
  • Resources specific to women's rugby
  • Central office assistance and the appointment of officers for administration of women's rugby
  • Use existing structures to administrate and develop women's rugby
  • Access to women's sport resources

Competitive Position of Women's Rugby in World Rugby

Third priority to men's rugby at all levels

1. Open Grade
2. Age Grade
3. Women
4. Pre-teen
5. Golden Oldies

BUT most of the resources are devoted to Open Grade and Age Grade Rugby within coaching and refereeing (technical level). Women are able to tap into the overall programme of the union. Despite ranking profile is very low.

Fastest growing sector of the game as a % of total number. Continuing to grow at a fast rate.

Retention rates vary within individual unions but tend to follow the male pattern especially from age grade to open grade.

Competitive Position of Women's Rugby as an International Women's Sport
Part of the overall growth of women's participation in sport and other fitness pursuits as these have been made more available
A high interest contact sport within the range of contact sports
Status a reflection of the overall status of rugby in a country

IRFB Development Plan for Women's Rugby
(Actions indicated in Performance Goals apply specifically to IRFB Actions)

Technical Resources
International Support

1. Participation

Involvement in all aspects of the game - playing, refereeing, coaching, administration and supporting


1. To make a policy statement of commitment
2. To increase participation numbers in all areas by 100% during the period 1996 - 2001


1. Recruitment
- Age Grade Advisory Committee to include Women's Rugby point of view
- Production and distribution of IB Age Grade Manual
- Dissemination of recruitment plans from established unions
2. Retention
- To continue to support WRWC and other recognised tournaments e.g. European Cup, Canada Cup, traditional bilateral games e.g. South Pacific Games
- To provide prescription, syllabus and assessment protocols for IB Coaching and Refereeing Accreditation Courses to improve coaching and refereeing

2. Technical Resources

The written, electronic, financial and human resources to meet the outcome goals


1. To research specific issues relating to Women's Rugby
2. To collect data currently available relating to Women's Rugby
3. To apply the results of the data etc. should it be necessary to do so
4. To improve the standard of play

(Resources available to all rugby will of course be available to Women's Rugby)

1. Women's Database
- The content should be based on research and currently available resources
- Implement findings through representation to TAC, Laws and MAC

2. Recognition and support of WRWC, regional tournaments and international fixtures by providing referees and assisting the host union in the funding needed to conduct the tournament

3. Liaison with the following committees:
-Tours and Tournaments - Laws
- Referees
- Age Grade
- RWC, especially the Tournament Director

4. Funding of experts in the aspects of the game unions need assistance in (IRS)

3. Administration


To provide guidelines and instruction in all administrative procedures from forming a team and organising a game to the formation and administration of a national union.


1. Network of contacts using E-mail, Internet and Newsletters to communicate with both Governing Bodies and individual Women's Rugby representatives

2. Produce an IRFB Women's Rugby Handbook

3. Produce a Women's Rugby Manual and Starter Pack - contents to include union development, leagues, competitions, age grade competitions, elite development, professional women's rugby (see Appendix 1 for detailed table of contents)

4. Provide consultants to facilitate planning and to set up Administration and Technical Structures

5. Provide guidelines for the appointment of staff for the development and administration of Women's Rugby

6. Continue to fund the Women's Advisory Committee as the monitoring and review Committee of the Plan

7. Conduct a biennial conference to provide opportunities to update unions, provide expert opinion and advise and to allow discussion on matters of mutual concern

4. International Support


To ensure that the IB gives Women 's Rugby the support needed to implement the plan


To support and integrate Women's Rugby into the mainsteam of rugby by having views represented on the IRFB Committees relevant to the development of Women's Rugby

5. Funding


To fund the implementation of this Plan


1. To subsidise the cost of holding recognised international tournaments and fixtures as endorsed by the Women's Advisory Committee

2. To appoint and fund panel referees from neutral unions for international fixtures for an interim period of three years after which the host union will become responsible for the cost

3. To fund the performance goals listed in the Budget

6. Marketing


To market Women in Rugby


1. To market the WRWC in partnership with the host union

Checklist of items to achieve this performance goal:
Press releases, radio interviews, television, terrestrial, cable, sponsorship deals, match videos, magazines e.g. "Oval World", "Kick-Off"


Technical Resources
International Support

1. Participation

1.1 Age Grade Advisory Committee to include Women's Rugby point of view
1.2 Production and distribution of IB Age Grade Manual (Newsletter)
1.3 Dissemination of recruitment plans from established unions (Newsletter)
1.4 Conduct WRWC and conduct and recognise other tournaments (RWC Ltd host agreements)
1.5 IB Course Prescription, syllabi, Assessment Protocols and resources for training coaches and referees (Newsletter)

2. Technical Resources

NB: IB Resource Development and IRS Funding (1.5)
2.1 Women in Rugby Database
- current research
- new research
- implementation through liaison with TAC, MAC, and Laws Committee
Also 1.4

3. Administration

3.1 Communications and Networks
- E-mail, Internet, Newsletters
- contacts - governing bodies, individual representatives
3.2 IRFB Women in Rugby Handbook
3.3 Manual
- starter pack
- union development - leagues, competitions, age grade competitions, elite development
- women's rugby in the professional era - guidelines for directing the trends
3.4 Consultancies
- planning, administration, technical development, implementation, monitoring and review (include in 3.3 manual)
3.5 Guidelines for the appointment of staff for the development and administration of Women's Rugby (include in 3.3 manual)

4. International Support

4.1 IRFB Policy Statement of support and endorsement
4.2 Women's Advisory Committee Meetings4.3 Biennial Conference
4.4 Liaison with other IB Committees where relevant
- Tours and Tournaments, Laws, Referees (Appointments), Technical, Medical, Age Grade, RWC especially Tournament Director

5. Marketing

5.1 Market WRWC in partnership with the host union (RWC Ltd)
5.2 Checklist of measures - press releases, radio interviews, TV - Terrestrial, cable, sponsorship deals, merchandising, match videos, magazine items, e.g. Oval World and Kick Off

6. Funding

6.1 Fund to implement this plan
6.2 Subsidise host union cost of holding recognised tournaments and fixtures
6.3 Subsidise neutral referees to recognised official international games

Performance Goal Priorities for Women's Rugby

1. Policy Statement
2. Funding Plan
3. Women's Advisory Committee
4. Committee Liaison with other IB Committees
5. Host union assistance - WRWC and other recognised tournaments
6. Communications and networks
7. Biennial Conference
8. Marketing Women's Rugby and WRWC
9. Courses for coaches, referees and players
10. Age Grade Committee - Women's point of view
11. Manual
12. Handbook
13. Guidelines for Appointment of Staff
14. Co-ordination of other tournaments and games so as there is a programme (Tours and Tournaments Committee)
15. Consultancies
16. Database
17. Recruitment Plans to unions
18. Subsidise appointment of neutral referees


The following is the proposed content for the Women's Rugby Manual:

1. Introduction
1,1 Aim of IRFB Re. Women's Rugby
1.2 Philosophy
1.3 Codes of conduct
1.4 Affiliation procedures
- international
- national
- province/region/state
- club/school
1.5 Brief History

2. Establishing Women's Rugby
2.1 Setting up a club
2.2 Setting up school teams
2.3 Setting up a provincial union
2.4 Setting up a national body
2.5 Starter Kit
2.6 Recruiting Volunteers
2.7 Management of Growth
2.8 Guidelines for Professional Women's Rugby

3. Promoting Women's Rugby
3.1 Promotional Guidelines
3.2 Steps in Recruiting Players
3.3 The Appeal of Rugby
3.4 Marketing Events
3.5 Gaining Sponsorship

4. Development Programmes

4.1 List of available resources
- women in rugby
- women in sport
4.2 Mental and physical training programmes
4.3 IB and national unions technical programmes
4.4 Safety in Women's Rugby
4.5 Age Grade Women's Rugby
4.6 Women's Rugby in Schools

5. Communications
5.1 Database
5.2 Records
5.3 Women's Rugby Network

6. Administration
6.1 Administration Resources
6.2 Players register and database

7. Support Systems
7.1 Funding and Support
7.1.1 IB Support and Funding
7.1.2 National Union Support
7.1.3 Provincial Union Support
7.1.4 Government and Quasi Govt Funding
7.2 National Union Structures
7.3 Using Existing Structures