World Rugby has announced the establishment of a dedicated women’s player welfare steering group that will exclusively focus on the advancement of player welfare initiatives and interventions designed specifically for the women’s game at all levels.

Women’s rugby is growing globally at a rapid pace and, in line with its strategy to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare, World Rugby is committed to ensuring a dedicated focus on women’s welfare advancement, and not just replicate or adopt measures in place for the men’s game. This approach also supports the approach outlined in the transformational 2017-25 Women’s Plan.

The independent steering group will provide expert, evidence-based recommendations to key World Rugby decision-making bodies to advance welfare for girls and women at all levels, including:

  • Injury surveillance studies and game analysis to track the evolution of the women’s game
  • Fill research gaps specifically related to the women’s game and to identify priorities for future research funding
  • Consider findings from existing women’s research and to determine what impact this has on laws and regulatory evolution
  • Identify elements of the game which would benefit from a women’s specific approach, e.g. training and education, laws of the game and HIA

Chaired by former Canada international, former World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient and consultant psychiatrist Dr Araba Chintoh, the 13-person steering group will comprise of a diverse group of independent and World Rugby expert medical and legal professionals, science and research experts, former international players and administrators from across the global game.

  • Danielle Salmon, New Zealand Rugby research scientist
  • Nic Evans, Course Lead: Physical Education, Sport and Youth Development and Sports Coaching, St Mary’s University
  • Cathy Wong, World Rugby Council Member (Oceania) and Women’s Advisory Committee member
  • Dr Anna Stodter, Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching and Physical Education, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Dr Serge Simon, World Rugby Women’s Advisory Committee Chair and Vice-President of FFR
  • Prof Ross Tucker, science and research consultant for World Rugby
  • Rachael Burford, International Rugby Players
  • Dr Sharron Flahive, International Rugby Players
  • Nicky Ponsford, World Rugby Women’s High-Performance Manager
  • Dr Éanna Falvey, World Rugby Chief Medical Officer  
  • Yvonne Nolan, World Rugby Deputy General Counsel
  • Mark Harrington, World Rugby Head of Technical Services

Dr Araba Chintoh today said: “The women’s game has developed at a rapid pace over the past few years, we must ensure that the right interventions, research studies and laws and are in place to continue to support and sustain its global growth and make it even more accessible.  

“We need to move away from simply replicating what is in existence in the men’s game with respect to player welfare and with the establishment of the women’s player welfare steering group, we will begin to inform and advise relevant decision making committees in World Rugby where change needs to happen. This is truly a significant and positive step for the women’s game .”

Earlier this year World Rugby outlined an ambitious six-point action plan to become the most progressive sport on player welfare with a key pillar of the strategy dedicated to focus on the women’s game, recognising both the growth potential and unique nature of women’s rugby.

The Women’s Player Welfare Steering group will convene for its first meeting in November.