Transformative 10-year women and girls rugby strategy launched

Representatives from New Zealand's rugby community have launched a 10-year women and girls’ rugby strategy at a special event in Auckland today.

Developed over the past 12 months in consultation with the rugby community, the New Zealand Women and Girls in Rugby System Strategy sets out the key focus areas, priorities, and guiding principles to transform the game at all levels.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said the System Strategy’s launch was a pivotal moment for women’s rugby in New Zealand.

“We are riding an extraordinary wave of excitement and engagement with women’s rugby in Aotearoa, the likes of which we’ve never seen. The Black Ferns amazing victory last year has shown what’s possible when we all come together in support of our wāhine. It is this momentum that is urging us all to embrace this moment and create change.

“We truly believe that rugby is a game for all and there’s a huge opportunity ahead of us over the next decade to engage more women and girls. What’s crucial is that it is done in a deliberate, structured, and focused way.”

Reddy also acknowledged the importance of the consultation process which saw 1,500 hours of feedback provided by more than 2,200 people in the rugby community.

“This strategy is a taonga - it is a gift from our participants to the wider rugby community. Women are at the very centre of this strategy and it has been shaped by their perspectives, challenges, hopes and dreams for rugby.”

Rugby unions and organisations across the country will use the System Strategy to assess where they are at on their women and girls’ journey and develop action plans across five key areas: culture, system, participation, performance and transitions.

Mid Canterbury Rugby Union CEO Tanya Dearns said the Strategy comes at a time the union is experiencing significant growth in women’s rugby.

“The impact the Black Ferns victory has had on our local community is massive and there’s huge interest and growth in playing numbers. We want those women and girls to feel safe, love playing, become leaders on our club boards and stay involved in the game for life.

“We’ve committed more resource to support women’s rugby and we’ll now take the time to develop our own action plan specific to our community to ensure this is sustainable and long-term.”

Alongside the System Strategy, NZR has launched the Women and Girls in Rugby Action Plan which outlines the organisation’s key annual priorities.

The NZR action plan sees over $21 million committed to women’s rugby initiatives this year, including the establishment of six new dedicated women’s rugby roles across community, high performance and commercial.

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said there could not be a better time to be focusing on women's rugby and accelerating the growth of the game in New Zealand.  

“Our focus as an organisation is on leading and enabling the implementation of the strategy. We're incredibly proud and excited about the impact this action plan will have on the women’s game this year, but we also respect that everyone is at different points and our commitment is to walk alongside the rugby community in this journey."

The NZR Action Plan has been developed according to priorities identified within the System Strategy and the current state of the rugby system. The 26 Provincial Unions will now develop individual action plans, according to local needs and supported by NZR.

Read the full Women and Girls in Rugby System Strategy 2023-2033, the System Strategy summary document, and NZR’s Action Plan 2023 here.