Women in community rugby leadership from across the United States gathered to share experiences and take action to grow rugby at the USA Grassroots to Global Forum.
USA Rugby partnered with ChildFund Rugby, the principal charity partner for Rugby World Cup 2021, to bring the Grassroots to Global Series to the United States. The Series unites community rugby leaders from across countries to improve the environment for girls and women in rugby toward achieving World Rugby’s ambition of equity on and off the field . On January 7, the USA Forum brought together 14 women representing 10 states to identify strategies and actions to address barriers and boost enablers to participation in grassroots rugby.
"Participation growth in rugby stems from the grassroots level in the United States, where programs and outreach such as these are key to positive progression,” said Ross Young, CEO of USA Rugby. “Placing a focus on the empowerment of young women is a central element to that growth, so the efforts here from the Forum organizers are incredible as we build toward successful Rugby World Cups in 2031 and 2033. We look forward to future programs and collaboration with ChildFund Rugby."
Katherine Aversano, USA Youth & High School Rugby Board member and USA Rugby DEI Committee member, was encouraged to see that 75% of Forum participants found rugby in high school, demonstrating the power of youth and high school communities to drive leadership pathways. “The women who participated are the next generation of United States rugby leadership. USA Youth & High School is proud to empower them to develop and sustain women’s and girls’ rugby through initiatives like Grassroots to Global,” she stated.
Through the Grassroots to Global Series, ChildFund Rugby has partnered with 26 rugby unions to host 22 Forums across 6 continents, uniting young women leading rugby at the community level around the world. “We can see the passion and inspiration for their sport and for developing leadership from this grassroots group and we are thrilled to play a small role in supporting their personal and professional development,” said Margaret Sheehan, ChildFund Australia CEO.
The USA Grassroots to Global Forum was hosted at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. Assistant Athletic Director Katie Wurst said that hosting the global leadership event fit perfectly with the school’s mission and the recent addition of NCAA Rugby as a varsity sport offering. “Listening to these incredible women leaders speak passionately about how their work is positively impacting their futures further emphasizes why rugby is the way forward,” she said.
USA Grassroots to Global Forum Participants
- Leah Atkins-Bostic
- Yesenia Avalos
- Paige Bramblett
- Kayla Dustin
- Hannah Fultz
- LeAnne Hudson
- Abbey Jacobs
- Shaniah Jones
- Maggie Kleyer
- Rylee Langdon
- Eden Liebenthal
- Jordyn Marlin
- Hailey Thomas
- Faith Walker
ChildFund Rugby is led by ChildFund Australia, an independent international development organization that works to reduce poverty for children in developing communities and a member of the ChildFund Alliance – a global network of 12 organizations which assists almost 23 million children and their families in 70 countries. For more information visit www.childfundrugby.org