Photo by Barbados Rugby

Rugby Americas North (RAN) is proud to announce another collaboration with ChildFund Rugby, an international development organization using the power of rugby to create positive change within communities. RAN is delighted to be assisting with the implementation of the ChildFund Rugby ‘Grassroots to Global’ initiative aimed at empowering girls and women in rugby throughout the region.

The basic premise of the ChildFund Rugby Grassroots to Global series is to identify girls and women in local rugby communities and bring them together in a safe space to exchange ideas, build powerful networks, and produce clear action plans for moving forward; enabling them to play an active role in contributing to the growth of the sport in the region and beyond.

RAN’s Regional Development Manager, Erin Kennedy, recently participated virtually in two of the women-led Grassroots to Global forums in Barbados and Mexico and will make the trip to St. Lucia at the end of next month to help realize ChildFund Rugby’s mission to inspire gender equality in rugby from the ground up.

RAN is thrilled to support this important international development opportunity, especially as it pertains to the progression of women in rugby both on and off the field.

Photo by Federación Mexicana de Rugby

Inspiring the Next Generation

RAN’s role so far has been to help connect ChildFund Rugby with emerging regional unions as potential forum hosts, and to encourage participation in the Grassroots to Global series.

Erin has also made herself available as a forum presenter to any host country and union that may be interested.

“As a female who is in a leadership role within rugby, hearing my personal journey can be really motivating and inspiring for participants,” she says.

In Mexico, Kennedy presented on her pathway within rugby leadership, as well as highlighted both leadership opportunities at RAN for women as well as in rugby in general. She also explored some of the challenges she has faced being a woman in rugby leadership thus far.

At the Barbados forum, Erin presented virtually about the specific avenues available for women in rugby outside of playing such as coaching, refereeing, and administration, and identified some of the training opportunities that are out there to help women professionally develop within rugby, particularly those that are online and easily accessible.

Whilst RAN did not attend the recent USA Rugby Grassroots to Global forum, Kennedy is confirmed to attend the upcoming St. Lucia session next month and may also lead some of the activities as part of RAN’s continued contribution to growing rugby for girls and women in the region.

Growing the game for women and girls is a pivotal part of RAN’s strategic plan, therefore cultivating and nurturing solid partnerships and sound projects like ChildFund’s Grassroots to Global campaign is crucial to the region’s rugby communities having opportunities to be part of the development of the game for the betterment of all.

Photo by Barbados Rugby

Creating Long Lasting Change

It is important to both ChildFund Rugby and to RAN that the individual unions run and lead the Grassroots to Global forums themselves, so that they can take ownership of the initiative’s desired sustainable development outcome.

ChildFund Rugby supports the host unions with technical support, coordination, and financial assistance, however the model is for the unions and the participants to drive the conversations and the vision, which are all specific to each country’s particular challenges and achievements as it relates to women in rugby.

Grassroots to Global participants in each host country are targeted ‘Community Rugby Leaders’ – identified as women and youth who volunteer or work to develop and grow the rugby offering in the community. This can include players who are taking leadership roles in their teams or clubs, those who have not yet made the step into coaching, refereeing or an administrative role but who may wish to do more, as well as young coaches, young referees, and administrators working within a union or running a specific rugby program at a grassroots level.

ChildFund Rugby intentionally brings these specific women and girls into the room to share their ideas and identify challenges which are then addressed through collective journey mapping and action plans, with the aim to achieve more equity in rugby both on and off the field. The forums are designed to ultimately create both long lasting and far-reaching change for the development of women in rugby worldwide.

RAN wholeheartedly supports the opportunity for regional unions to participate in Grassroots to Global and to get more young women involved in the game and moving into leadership positions.

From a RAN development perspective, Erin Kennedy says getting more females in at the higher levels of coaching, refereeing, and administration is essential.

“We have a lot of challenges getting females involved in rugby leadership in our region and it is really pertinent that we highlight these kinds of opportunities and get our women involved. It is absolutely necessary that we continue to provide our unions with opportunities to continue to learn and grow, and particularly where there are gaps such as with women’s rugby. RAN could not be more pleased to be a part of the Grassroots to Global series and we look forward to many more fruitful collaborations with ChildFund Rugby.”

Through the Grassroots to Global series, ChildFund Rugby has partnered with 26 rugby unions to host 22 forums across six continents, uniting young women around the world all in the name of changing lives through sport. For more information, visit

Photo by Federación Mexicana de Rugby