After a regional search and interview process, Sudamérica Rugby has hired Bárbara Pichot to lead a new women’s rugby project in the region, joining as new Women’s Rugby Coordinator.

Women’s rugby in South America has seen a solid growth in recent years, with its fifteen member nations playing the game, yet Pichot believes it can grow much bigger.

“We have a huge task at hand but a lot of people want the game to continue growing,” she tells World Rugby from her home in Buenos Aires.

Born in Argentina and older sister of three former rugby rugby players, her love for the game was instilled by her late father Enrique, a former Club Atlético de San Isidro player and coach.

Her three brothers played in the club’s senior team, with Enrique Jr., currently assistant coach of Los Pumitas, representing Argentina at sevens, and Agustín retiring as one of the country’s all-time greats and an inductee in World Rugby’s Hall of Fame.

As a former field hockey player, Bárbara Pichot first got involved with women’s rugby five years ago, first in her home country.

“What I saw amazed me; the love for the game and the passion in dire circumstances,” she reflects.

“I visited every club and every province, meeting players, their families, getting to know their stories, which were very different to those I was accustomed to hearing at my club, where there is no women’s rugby.”

Known to all as ‘Barbie’, she started covering the women’s game for a magazine and a radio network and was a producer of content for ESPN when she was asked by Sudamérica Rugby to take part in a ground-breaking Women in Rugby Forum in Paraguay, in 2019.

“There are a lot of positive leaders in the region; there is a lot to grow and the will to do so,” she says, pleased with the reaction in the region to her appointment.

In 2019, before COVID-19 intervened, Pichot made 45 rugby-related trips and has visited Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia and Costa Rica and Panamá, and so understands first-hand the needs in the region.

She has a number of goals, one of which is “make the game appealing at a younger age, that mothers have no fear in taking their daughters to play rugby.”

It is crucial, she believes, that each county has role models, following the idea of World Rugby’s Try and Stop Us campaign, showing how hard women have worked to get where they are.

“We need leaders in each country who can become regional leaders. We can look at what other regions have done and adapt it, all in the joy of a growing sport.”

Development and performance are also high on her agenda. “We need more players at every level.”

Katie Sadleir, World Rugby’s General Manager for Women’s Rugby, welcomed Pichot’s appointment. “Having a new staff member in Sudamérica Rugby to work in women’s rugby falls into our Women’s Plan 2017-2025, which is great news for the growth of the game.”

“Barbie’s drive will be great to have and I trust in her and all the women in South America for continuous growth.”

Ahead of starting in her new role, Pichot, said: “It is with great pride that I will accompany the growth of women’s rugby in the region.”

“I am convinced that with the combined strength of all of us in the region, the National Unions and Federations and World Rugby, we’ll continue to take positive steps that ensure success.”

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