USA Eagle Alum, Kristine Sommer joins international players in launch Global Rugby Players Foundation to support life beyond the game

Fri, May 31, 2024, 12:57 AM
by Calder Cahill.
World Rugby
World Rugby

10 Founders including Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson, Rachael Burford, Richie McCaw and USA Eagle Kristine Sommer launch new charity, created in partnership with International Rugby Players and World Rugby.

Current and former rugby players from around the world have today come together to launch a new charity, the Global Rugby Players Foundation. Among them is USA Eagle Alum, Kristine Sommer, who was in London today for the foundation launch with World Rugby leadership. Earning 25 international caps and representing the USA in two Rugby World Cups, Sommer retired from the playing pitch in 2023 and has attributed her lived experiences towards the foundation goals.

Sommer noted, "Retirement was difficult for me and I felt like I was going through it alone. We’ll start to experience a higher turnover of players from the professional rugby landscape in the USA, especially as we jump into professional contracting.

"The transition doesn’t have to be daunting. Life after rugby exists and want to ensure the resources, tools and networking opportunities are available now. The Global Rugby Players Foundation will be a profound support structure for all players transitioning into the next chapter of their lives."

Kristine Sommer Global Rugby Players Foundation

Supported by both World Rugby and International Rugby Players, the founding members have established the new independent organization. Former Wallabies captain George Gregan will Chair the new charity board of trustees which has appointed Sara Heath as its Chief Executive Officer.

The Global Rugby Players Foundation exists to empower rugby players who contributed to the success of the game to have a healthy and fulfilling life when they step away from the sport. The Global Rugby Players Foundation will use local solutions to global problems to support players regardless of their location. The Foundation will provide a holistic program of support which wraps around all aspects of former players’ lives. Support will be delivered across five main pillars:

  • On-the ground funding – This will be grant funding through Players’ Associations or trusted partners, with programs lasting at least a year, tailored for regional differences.
  • GRPF central delivered programs – Including providing access to health and wellbeing programs, health research including women’s health, and proactive mental health programs.
  • Career and business coaching – That will be delivered individually and in groups, to support players in defining their future lives beyond the game.
  • Community support – Including the development of a community app to stay connected with other Foundation members.
  • Partnership programs – Where the Foundation will work with organizations, sponsors and funders to provide opportunities for former players.

The Foundation will kick off on June 1 2024 with four pilot programs in Ireland, South Africa, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. The central delivery of support will start in the Autumn with further funding rounds in the winter of 2024.

Global Rugby Players Foundation CEO Sara Heath said: “Some players move onto new lives after rugby very successfully. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of players face many challenges when they step away from playing the game. Rugby has a responsibility to these players and the Global Rugby Players Foundation seeks to reframe the concept of life after rugby by looking at it as a positive challenge and an opportunity to forge something new and exciting, ‘Beyond the Game’ .

International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein said: “The launch of the Foundation is a milestone in how we support the welfare of elite and professional rugby players around the world. Over recent years, former players have highlighted the need for further supports as they finish their playing careers. Some of the most common challenges include a loss of identity and changes to a person’s sense of purpose and direction. Players can feel lost, and with that comes various challenges. The GRPF will help tackle these issues that arise, beyond the game."

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin said: “World Rugby is delighted to see the Global Rugby Players Foundation up and running. When the players came to us with their idea, an independent charity to support players with their life beyond the game, we were only too happy to do everything we could to support them. Now the Foundation’s work is beginning I look forward to watching it go from strength to strength in the coming months and years. World Rugby will continue to play our part in supporting the wellbeing of our current and former players.”

10 founding members of the Global Rugby Players Foundation:
  1. Dan Carter - New Zealand
  2. Jonny Wilkinson - England
  3. Richie McCaw - New Zealand
  4. Siya Kolisi - South Africa
  5. Rachael Burford - England
  6. Conrad Smith - New Zealand
  7. Kristine Sommer - USA
  8. Census Johnston - Samoa
  9. Sharni Williams - Australia
  10. Thierry Dusautoir - France

Full details can be found at our website: