Earlier this month, 12 scholars representing 11 countries gathered in Paris to attend the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Summit 2023.
Held on the sidelines of Rugby World Cup 2023, in the beautiful surroundings of Campus Serge Kampf Les Fontaines, the two-day summit gave a dozen participants in the 2022 and 2023 Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programmes an opportunity to come together, share best practice and build a support network.
Selected scholars were invited to present on the projects they have carried out within their respective unions, while there was a workshop focused on the challenges participants have faced in the course of that work.
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby, Sally Horrox also took part in a Leadership Panel alongside representatives of Capgemini and RWC 2014 winner Rachael Burford, who is currently Head of Women’s Rugby at International Rugby Players.
The discussion covered a number of topics, including leadership styles and values, the importance of diversity in governance positions and career progression opportunities.
During the workshop on challenges faced by participants, the scholars were each required to produce an action plan that they will implement within their union moving forward.
Organisers of the summit will check in on the progress of these action plans in the future, and the scholars present have been encouraged to share them with their alumni on the 2022 and 2023 Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programmes who were not in Paris.
Away from the classroom, the scholars were taken for dinner on a river cruise of the Seine and attended Ireland’s brilliant 36-14 victory against Scotland at Stade de France.
It is hoped that those social events can help strengthen the bonds forged between the scholars and create a truly supportive network for those within the programme.
For Kanisha Vincent, a 2022 scholar from Trinidad and Tobago, her experience in Paris has bolstered her enthusiasm for the programme and what it can help her deliver.
“As someone who was new to the programme last year and more of a ‘veteran’ this year, the contributions of World Rugby and Capgemini to women in leadership continue to be invaluable,” she said.
“The practical approach to workshops with small groups and panel discussions was instructive. Also, the hands-on brainstorming and solution-finding we got to do was very refreshing and reinvigorating.
“And to do it in such a beautiful place, too, that was wonderful.”
Fellow 2022 scholar Natasha Olsen added: "It is always good to be with women from different countries and realities that have in common the same passion for rugby. It is a unique opportunity to learn and come back home more inspired and with new ideas and goals.
"It was truly important to hear from Sally Horrox about women's rugby in a global perspective, so in all different regions we can understand our role in that and go on at the same direction, all together.
"Having experts from Capgemini in different areas helps us to see how we can improve specific skills for the work we do in our countries. It is always good to learn and be in touch with people that are good at what they do and like to share the experience they have.
"The work that Anne [Grumelard] does for, and with, the scholars is amazing. She arranges everything so we can enjoy the moments we have together, having fun, learning from each other and also getting to know more about women's rugby and the role we have in our sport, locally and globally."
“The atmosphere of the Rugby World Cup just really energised every aspect of the summit,” Jessica Dombrowski said.
“Having a smaller group made things more intimate, allowing for more beneficial brainstorming workshops, and interactive discussions. I think the group and I got to know each other very well, and everyone has already made plans to continue the work that was started there.
“More than any other opportunity to date, this group was a special one, and really has me excited about the future of women's rugby.”