Seventeen new seats for women on World Rugby Council
World Rugby, the international governing body for rugby union, today announced what it described as “sweeping reforms” to its ruling Council by increasing the number of people who can sit on the Council from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women.
The “historic and unprecedented decision” which was spearheaded by Bill Beaumont, World Rugby’s chairman, means that the 11 unions and six regional associations will have the right to send an additional representative to the Council, subject to that person being female.
World Rugby said: “Approval of the proposal by Council at its recent meeting in London is a first and very important step in World Rugby’s wider strategy to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field of play and bring gender-balance to the highest levels of its governance.
“The 2017-25 Women’s Plan – also ratified by Council at the same meeting – shows World Rugby is committed to being a global leader in sport, where women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and make highly valued contributions to participation, performance, leadership and investment in the global game.”
Ada Milby, secretary general of the Philippine Rugby Football Union, has become the first woman appointed to the Council under the reform, having been elected by Asia Rugby at the weekend.
Under the reforms, the following 10 unions, which currently have three votes but only two representatives, will now have the right to send an additional representative to Council provided that representative is female - Argentina, Australia, England, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.
Japan and the following six regional associations, which currently have two votes but only one representative, have the right to send an additional representative to Council provided that representative is female - Rugby Africa, Asia Rugby, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Europe, Oceania Rugby, Sudamerica Rugby.
The following four unions, which currently have one vote and one representative on Council, will remain unchanged - Canada, Georgia, Romania, USA.
The existing number of votes that each union and regional association has will remain unchanged, regardless of whether they are entitled to an additional representative.
World Rugby said: “Driven by a record-breaking Women’s Rugby World Cup, rugby’s highly successful inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Programme and the thriving HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth with participation levels at an all-time high.
“Latest figures show more than 2.4 million women and girls are playing rugby at all levels, accounting for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of players globally, an increase in player numbers of 60 per cent since 2013.”
Beaumont said: “This is a major milestone in the progression and growth of World Rugby and the global game. The reform is historic, reflective of our ambitions and long overdue. If we are to promote and nurture the growth of women in rugby then change must be led from the top.”
Katie Sadleir, World Rugby’s general manager of women’s rugby, said: “By ensuring women have a voice on our highest decision-making body, we will benefit from more balanced decision-making, setting standards not only for our sport but also helping to drive the agenda in sport governance globally.
“Supported by our ambitious 2017-25 Women’s Plan, we are set to fast-track the development of women in rugby on and off the field of play, and inspire future generations of young people around the world.”