On the eve of the Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship 2022, two of the highest-profile names in Fijian rugby have become the public faces of Get into Rugby PLUS.

Young rugby enthusiasts gathered at Albert Park in the Fijian capital of Suva to greet their heroes, Rusila Nagasau and Jerry Tuwai, captains of the women’s and men’s Fiji rugby sevens team at the last Olympics, as they were officially unveiled as ambassadors of the impactful social change programme,

In addition to leading their teams to respective bronze and gold medals, Nagasau and Tuwai were the sport’s flagbearers at the opening ceremony in Tokyo. With their longevity and success in the sport, Fiji Rugby CEO John O’Connor admits it would be hard to find “two better role models.”

Get into Rugby PLUS is a flagship Sport for Development programme that embeds life skills learning with rugby to promote positive behaviours, support gender equality, and prevent violence against women, girls and boys.

The programme is jointly developed and implemented by Fiji Rugby Union, Oceania Rugby, UN Women and ChildFund Rugby, and is currently delivered in both Fiji and Samoa.

“I’m so happy to be an Ambassador for Get into Rugby PLUS,” said Nagasau.

“It has done much to encourage more girls to play rugby and for women to coach. But even more importantly, it is changing mindsets of girls and boys around gender equality, and there is no place for violence, ever.”

Tuwai is a firm believer in rugby’s values being a vehicle for positive change in so many areas and is also delighted to come on board.

“I love that Get into Rugby PLUS focuses on the rugby values – like respect, integrity and self-discipline,” the magician said.

“It doesn’t matter how fast you run, or how many tries you score, you need these qualities to succeed in rugby, as a player or a coach, and in life.

“The values that guide our game are what we live by. Living by these values can help promote equality and end violence against women.”

The Oceania Women’s Rugby Championship 2022 begins in Auckland, New Zealand on 9 July and involves the national women’s 15s teams from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.