Unions and regional associations have been empowered to drive the second phase of the ‘Try And Stop Us’ campaign, beginning the search for their own ‘Unstoppable’ women in the process.

World Rugby launched the campaign, alongside the Women In Rugby brand, in May, 2019, using the inspirational stories of 15 ‘Unstoppable’ women to normalise female participation and increase engagement. The video that accompanied the launch has been watched more than 10 million times in the intervening 16 months.

As part of the three-year campaign, it was World Rugby’s intention to let regions and unions guide its second phase, lifting its profile locally in order to get people talking and boost participation numbers.

To that end, the governing body has created a Try and Stop Us Toolkit to enable regions and unions to utilise the original campaign creative and tailor it exclusively for their market, while still boasting a consistent look and feel. 

The toolkit enables smaller unions that did not have access to a large promotional resources to get involved and activate in their markets. And, the results have been impressive.

Unearthing a new generation of Unstoppables

Rugby Asia has been active in promoting the campaign during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has started a search for the continent’s own ‘Unstoppables’.

One image that has been created by the governing body to promote ‘Try And Stop Us’ quotes ambassador Nahid Biyarjomandi as saying: “My mission is finding a new generation of Unstoppables in Asia.”

Rugby India, which hosted a ‘Live Chat’ between India women’s captain Vahbiz Bharucha and Try And Stop Us ambassador Stacey Fluhler in May, revealed it had received 60 applications from women who wanted to follow in Sweta Shahi’s ‘Unstoppable’ footsteps. 

The Philippine Rugby Football Union, meanwhile, is in the process of revealing its first Unstoppable XV.

Rugby Africa is also set to announce a list of local ambassadors — the Unstoppables of Rugby Africa — while Oceania Rugby is hosting a Women in Rugby month during September, and social media campaigns have also been launched by unions in South America.

“It’s so special,” World Rugby’s General Manager Women’s Rugby, Katie Sadleir said.

“The whole campaign was really quite unique in terms of really getting people connected from hearts and minds and having people talk about people that they know that are unstoppable. 

“And now, what we're seeing is those stories coming to life. There are so many stories, so many inspirational women right across the world.”

Unstoppable sisterhood

Sadleir recently took part in an online forum organised by Rugby Africa, the panel for which included another ‘Unstoppable’, Anna Preira, who discussed the impact the campaign had on her.

“She [Anna] really feels that she's part of… that sisterhood of bonding that exists amongst women around the world who play this amazing game,” Sadleir said. 

“They are the ‘Original Unstoppables’, I'll call them. They have a very, very active WhatsApp group, and they're very, very supportive of them. 

“Some have become pregnant, some have got married. All of them are doing great stuff still on the field of play. And they will always be that first group.”

At the heart of the second phase is a determination from World Rugby to build capacity and capability within unions and regions globally.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is something that no one could have planned for. But, Sadleir is happy that the campaign has allowed unions to keep in touch with players during what is an uncertain time.

“It is an incredibly challenging environment for all rugby players around the world,” she said. 

“But having something like this campaign really connects people in terms of the values of rugby, the inspirational ambassadors that we're creating through this campaign, which just spur more young girls and boys to be interested in getting involved.”

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