THE Welsh Rugby Union in collaboration with Cardiff Metropolitan have launched a ground-breaking Women in High Performance Coaching Programme to enhance the opportunities for women within the performance pathway.

At the launch of the programme, WRU performance director Nigel Walker said it was important that the WRU is seen as an organisation in sport which is open to all.

“We need to be as inclusive as we possibly can be in all aspects of this great game of ours,” he said.
“We’ve been looking for female coaches over the past few months and it’s a very short list at the moment and we need to improve that. And we need to improve it with female coaches who have a 360 degree look at the game.

“I think that if I am standing here in five or 10 years’ time, I hope we will be reflecting on the vast number of female coaches which inhabit the rugby landscape at all levels.”

WRU performance coach manager Dan Clements outlined the vison for the two-year programme where the aim is to develop a diverse and inclusive coaching system in Wales.

“We have answered the call from back in 2020 when World Rugby launched their women in rugby toolkit which laid out a vision for the game globally. We felt it really resonated with what we are trying to do here in Wales in terms of performance rugby,” he said.

“There is no denying what World Rugby laid out in terms of the current landscape – there are significant barriers for women coaches in professional rugby and there is a severe lack of representation across the performance pathway.

“We have got a huge need to identify and develop more coaches and we need to work really hard as we understand the barriers in terms of progressing in coaching and now alongside the programme with Cardiff Met, we aim to overcome them and get more women involved in our performance pathway.”

By specifically exploring ways of better managing the everyday (high) performance coaching environment, the programme aims to provide women coaches with a sense of agency and possibilities within rugby.

The programme hopes to enable, encourage, and inspire women coaches to make an impact in their rugby coaching context and, in doing so, begin to change the industrial status quo.

The programme will not only encourage women coaches to engage in further (mixed) coach education, but importantly, it represents an integral shift within the WRU’s coach development offer and its commitment to furthering opportunities.

“We really want to develop coaches who can be the future of the WRU and can drive performance for rugby within Wales in a positive, inclusive manner,” added Clements.

Dr Sofia Santos, who will be the programme lead from the Coaching Hub at Cardiff Met University, said the programme will challenge coaches to reflect and better understand themselves in relation to others – particularly within male dominated working structures.

“It is not developing coaches just for women’s rugby. But rather to address the world wider goal of developing and increasing women coaches within rugby in general. Therefore, we aim to contribute to dismantle the current divide between men’s and women’s rugby when it comes to coaching,” she explained.