Rugby Roundatable Participants

The US Women’s Rugby Foundation hosted its FIRST ANNUAL WOMEN’S RUGBY ROUNDTABLE on November 10, 2007 in conjunction with the Div I & Div II Women’s Rugby National Championship weekend in Sanford, Florida. “We were very pleased with the turnout and came away with some concrete ideas to help support women’s club rugby”, said Foundation President and Roundtable Facilitator, Danita Knox. “We intend to make the roundtable an annual event.”

The roundtable brought together coaches, players and administrators from the teams attending the Nationals Tournament to share ideas on how to improve support for and build women’s club rugby. Questions were posed to the participants to gain insight into the top issues potentially holding back women’s rugby. The issues brought forward by the group included:

  1. Money/Funding
  2. Facilities/Fields
  3. Recruitment/Retention
  4. Coaching Quality/Numbers
  5. Quality Refs
  6. Geography/Travel

As facilitator, Knox had participants focus on the top three issues by encouraging them to share their experiences dealing with these barriers to success and discussing possible solutions to overcoming these obstacles.

Listed below are the highlights of the ideas, insights and solutions discussed by the group:

  1. Money:
    1. Youth/Inter-city - Grants; Human Resources Person for Grants
    2. Guide to becoming 501(c)(3)
    3. 3 - 4 Regional Volunteers for Grant writing, 501(c)(3) help
    4. Alumni Foundations
    5. Pay Options on Team Website
    6. Golf Tournament
    7. Pharmaceuticals Money
  2. Facility:
    1. It takes multiple years and consistent involvement with local government
    2. Alumni in politics
    3. Follow men’s team; partner with men for community sports
    4. “Community Center”
    5. Help in community - “Get kids off streets”; High School, College, Club
    6. Attend community meetings
    7. Be organized - Schedule events well in advance and promote a long-term calendar
  3. Coaching:
    1. Coaching Recertification - Why must coaches who paid to get certified under the old system pay to get recertified? They are required to pay the same as those getting certified for first time.
    2. Make coaching job small enough. Coaches are often responsible for club organization, fundraising, etc.
    3. Need a defined length of season. Coaches end up coaching year round with no break
    4. How to communicate skill set?
    5. Need a basic skills coaching certification level for “new to rugby coaches”
A Rugby Roundtable session

Participants were also asked what the Women’s Rugby Foundation could do for them. Suggestions included:

  1. Fundraising:
    1. Help secure sponsors
    2. Develop a grant program for coach & referee development
    3. Reach out to one or two airlines to allow Frequent Flyer Donations. Approach hotels as well to allow miles donation. Coordinate these programs through the website.
  2. Facilities:
    1. Create procedure manual on how to build a clubhouse from fields to administration
    2. Host a best practices conference and include local governance individuals
  3. Coaching/Referee:
    1. Create game analysis tools
    2. Fund position coaches for women’s camps (at all levels, not just Eagles)
    3. Hold coaching clinics geared towards coaching women
    4. Develop quality referees for women’s sides
  4. Players/Recruitment:
    1. Fund and offer scholarships
    2. Raise awareness of women’s rugby in the general public so that the sport is more readily accepted by youth and their parents)
  5. Resources:
    1. Recognition Division II
    2. Provide a nationwide network and place for teams and players of all ages (i.e., education & safety)
    3. Increase support from USA Rugby for women’s programs
    4. Develop a long-range calendar (1,2,5 year plan)
    5. International Women’s Rugby Events
    6. Increase media exposure
    7. Help organize
Leslie Bonci

Following the roundtable discussion, the Foundation welcomed Keynote Speaker Leslie Bonci, the Director of Sports Nutrition Program for the University of Pittsburgh and the Sports Dietitian for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bonci gave an outstanding presentation on the importance of correct nutrition in achieving optimum performance. Kathy Flores Women’s National Team Head Coach, announced that Leslie will be working with the National Team Program as the Nutritional Consultant. “It is one of the last pieces to be filled in our staff and probably the most important piece when training the athletes” said Flores.

Steve Cumberlin

Also attending the seminar was a surprise guest, Super 14 Highlander Scrum Coach Steve Cumberlin. Cumberlin was brought in by former Eckerd College coach Mike Lane. In the lobby after the seminar Cumberlin gave some scrimmaging tips, much to the delight of some of the All Blue Forwards.

The organizers were pleased that the first US Women’s Rugby Roundtable was a success and plan on making it an annual event. Plan to join the 2008 Roundtable to contribute your ideas, insights and experience to ensure the growth and success of Women’s Club Rugby.

To download the full reports from the Roundtable, click on the links below (PDF format):

Roundtable Report 2007

Nutrition for Optimum Performance