• 12 new scholarships will be granted in 2020
  • 37 Executive Leadership Scholarships have been awarded worldwide since 2018
  • World Rugby announce 10 scholarship recipients from Africa, Oceania, South America, Europe and North America
  • Scholarships programme is a key strand of the Accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25 strategy

Ahead of International Women’s Day, World Rugby has announced an extension of its Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship programme, following game-changing outcomes in its first two years. 

An additional 12 new scholarships will be awarded in 2020 with 12 recipients coming from across the globe in Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe and North America. 

Originally launched in 2018 as a two-year strategy to accelerate the normalisation of women in key leadership roles on and off the field, the game-changing scholarship programme aligns with World Rugby’s transformational governance reform, which has resulted in women comprising more than a third of the international federation’s 50-strong Council. 

The programme offers opportunities for professional and leadership development for women in its member unions and regional associations. It is open to women who are currently involved in rugby at governance or senior management level or have the potential to be a senior manager within the sport or on a union or region board within two years. 

Notable scholarship recipient successes:

  • Maha Zaoui (Tunisia) – Former Manager of the Fédération Tunisienne de Rugby, has now been appointed as the new Women’s Rugby Manager at Rugby Africa, with responsibility of growing women’s rugby across the African continent
  • Rolande Boro (Burkina Faso) – President of Burkina Faso in 2019 who has been elected to the board of Rugby Africa and also appointed as a World Rugby Council member
  • Dr Araba “Roo” Chintoh (Canada)  Appointed chairperson of the first transgender working group review undertaken by World Rugby

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Ahead of International Women’s Day, I am delighted to confirm that we are extending our game-changing Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship programme, a key strand of the 2017-25 women in rugby strategy, into 2020 with 12 deserving recipients of great potential.

“World Rugby is committed to driving gender balance and ensuring women have equal opportunities in all areas of the game, from the playing field through to the boardroom. We have seen first-hand the significant impact the Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships have had among past recipients in accelerating their professional development forward in ways that simply wouldn’t have been possible without the programme.” 

As part of the programme, scholarship recipients can benefit from informal mentoring with recipients being connected with leaders, both male and female, from the wider global rugby family.

2020 World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship programme:

  • Beth Onesemo (Samoa)  Board Member, Board of Directors, Samoa Rugby Union
  • Nicki Nicol (New Zealand)  Chief Operating Officer, New Zealand Rugby
  • Angela del Pan (Spain) – High Performance Operations Manager, Spanish Rugby Union (FER)
  • Su Carty (Ireland)  IRFU committee member and World Rugby Council Member
  • Vanessa Doble (South Africa)  Head of Legal and Compliance and Company Secretary of SARU and World Rugby Council Member
  • Ando Niaina Herimahefa (Madagascar)  Women’s Referee Manager and Girls’ School Rugby Manager, Malagasy Rugby
  • Keisha-Ann Down (Jamaica)  Vice-Chairman, Jamaica Rugby Football Union
  • Jenn Heinrich (USA) – President and CEO of Rugby Oregon, CEO and Co-Founder Girls Rugby, Inc
  • Sisy Quiroz (Peru)  CEO, Peruvian Rugby Football Union
  • Nitzia Formoso (Uruguay) – National women’s team manager, Uruguay Rugby Union

World Rugby Women’s Advisory Committee Chairman Serge Simon said: “The Executive Leadership Scholarships have been a real success story since they were first launched in 2018. It’s an exciting time in the programme as we are now starting to see a direct impact at a global level with talented scholarship recipients moving into decision-making positions at the highest level across the game.”

World Rugby General Manager for Women’s Rugby Katie Sadleir added: “Over the past two years we have seen incredible success stories of scholarship recipients being appointed into leadership positions across the game. Through the programme we have created a truly global and connected network of women, within the wider rugby family, who are leading by example within their respective unions and regional associations. For successful and sustained gender balance, we need to ensure that women have the correct professional opportunities for development and the scholarships enable them to attain this.”
Asia will announce two 2020 scholarships along with an additional two scholarships having deferred their allocation from 2019, at a later stage this year.