The Fiji Rugby Union and the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement GIRLS (Grow Inspire Relate Lead Succeed) program joined together to host an afternoon of Tag Rugby at Sukana park on Wednesday 8th March 2017 to commemorate the International Women’s Day. Prior to this afternoon event Vela Naucukidi the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) Women’s Development officer presented the union and Oceania Rugby’s response to the University of the South Pacific's award winning research into the barriers, motivations and opportunities for women's rugby to parents and participants at the event. This response has seen the use of a multi-pronged strategy to increase girls and women’s participation, and build an infrastructure that supports women taking up a range of roles.The Rugby Values of Integrity, Passion, Solidarity, Discipline and Respect are pivotal in Women playing and enjoying the Game of Rugby.
This research highlighted that 68% of gatekeepers (teachers and parents) said the most positive aspect of rugby participation is that it could lead to other opportunities and success. E.g. exposure and confidence, employment opportunities, overseas scholarships and character building. To see further information on the Evolution of the Women’s Game please click here.Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Executive Director Nalini Singh said ‘Using sports like rugby is a creative way to help build confidence and also raise awareness on the existing societal perceptions against girl’s participation in male-dominated fields.’ Adam Thomas, head of Community and Pacific Partnerships at the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) noted that “Providing more opportunities to take part in Rugby is team effort. Australia Rugby Union is pleased to work with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to help women and girls in Fiji and across the Pacific Islands benefit from playing the game.” The success of the Fiji Women’s 7s team in 2016 being the first team in any sport from a Pacific Island nation to play at the Olympic Games again highlights the depth of talent and passion for Rugby within the region. The growing public support for Women’s Rugby within in Oceania saw the inaugural Oceania Women’s Championship held in November 2016 between Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Samoa Rugby Union continued the celebrations of International Women’s day by hosting a secondary school girl’s festival for the second year in a row.Whilst female participation in Rugby is increasing every day, there is still much to do. Oceania Rugby is excited and pleased to partner with organisations within the region who support and progress the rights of girls and women in the Pacific. Naucukidi highlighted this when asked about the development and growth of Women’s Rugby in Fiji saying “We want to give teenagers and young women a great experience in the game so they keep coming back. We need women to contribute as coaches, officials and administrators. And we want to open the door to new partners, especially ones that care about new opportunities for girls and women.”Oceania Rugby is proud to acknowledge that in 2016 the Board appointed 2 female independent directors both Cathy Wong, who is based in Fiji, was appointed as the Women’s Director and Aloma Johannsson, who is based in Tonga, was appointed as the Independent Director.
Sarah Walker - AdministratorOceania Rugby