World Rugby has reconfirmed its commitment and investment into the acceleration of women in leadership positions in rugby. Through its World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship program, World Rugby has selected 12 new recipients identified across the globe for 2021. Among the recipients is Kenya’s Peris Mukoko, a Rugby Africa referee.

World Rugby has invested £490,000 in the Executive Leadership Scholarships since the program’s inception in 2018. Successful candidates receive a £10,000 grant to support professional development. Additionally, recipients benefit from informal mentoring and are connected with inspirational leaders, both male and female, from the wider global rugby family.

The Executive Leadership Scholarship program directly delivers to develop inspirational leadership on and off the field. This is in line with the World Rugby’s strategic plan to accelerate the global development of women in rugby, 2017-25.

The program has been so successful, currently entering its fourth year, with 37 recipients worldwide already benefitting from scholarships.

The leadership appointments from the alumni include

1. Marjorie Enya – Appointed to the World Rugby Council for Sudamérica Rugby
2. Ada Milby – Elected President of the Philippine Rugby Football Union
3. Viengsamai Souksavanh – Appointed Chief Executive of Lao Rugby Federation
4. Rolande Boro – Appointed to the World Rugby Council for Rugby Africa
5. Dr. Araba ‘Roo’ Chintoh – The first female Rugby Americas North board representative for Canada and is also the chairperson of the World Rugby Transgender Participation Working Group.
6. Maha Zaoui – The first appointed Women’s Development Manager of a region, Rugby Africa.
7. Maria Catalina Palacio – Appointed to Sudamérica Rugby’s Council.

The program is open to women in rugby who are currently involved at governance or senior management level or have the potential to advance in the sport within two years.

Commenting on the program, World Rugby Chair, Sir Bill Beaumont, said, “On International Women’s Day 2021 we are proud to be announcing 12 new recipients of our transformational Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship program. Our 2021 recipients will follow in the impactful strides of the program’s alumni, who have progressed to achieve great things as leaders in our sport.”

2021 World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipients:

1. Ana Tuiketei (Fiji) – Judicial Officer Fiji Rugby and Oceania Rugby
2. Lanna Assaigo-Kami (Papua New Guinea) – Papua New Guinea Rugby Union legal consultant and volunteer, board member of a Coalition of Change NGO
3. Annabel Kehoe (Canada) – Chief Executive Officer, British Columbia Rugby Union, Chair of the National Return to Play Working Group of Rugby Canada
4. Meaghan Howat (Canada) – Board Member of Rugby Canada
5. Abigail Mnikwa (Zimbabwe) – Zimbabwe Rugby Union board member, Chair of Zimbabwe Women’s Rugby Committee
6. Peris Mukoko (Kenya) – Board Member at the Kenya Rugby Union
7. Deuyenit Valenciano Cascante (Costa Rica) – Women’s Development Officer for Costa Rican Rugby Federation, member of the Central American Women’s Rugby Committee
8. Hana Schlangerová (Czechia) – Czech Board Member and Technical Committee and Chair of Women’s Rugby Committee
9. Rebecca Davies (England) – RFU Constituent Body and Club Development Sub-Committee member, Chairperson of Club Development in Staffordshire RFU
10. Nahid Biyarjomandi (Iran,) – Asia Rugby Exco member and first deputy of Asia Women’s Advisory Committee and Board member and Head of Development Committee of Iran Rugby
11. Sarah Abd Elbaki (Syria) – Head of Women’s Rugby Development in Syria, member of Asia Rugby Competitions committee, advisory board member for the Girls’ Rugby Club (GRC)
12. Natalia Diaz (Argentina) – Coach in Women’s High Performance in UAR, part of the Argentine national women’s team staff