Connacht Rugby announces three-year sponsorship to encourage more young girls to play rugby 2 months ago

Connacht Rugby announces three-year sponsorship to encourage more young girls to play rugby

It's great to see!

Connacht Rugby has announced a three-year plan to encourage young girls to play rugby.

Sponsored by Clubforce, the scheme will see Connacht Rugby work with schools and clubs to improve participation and to grow the women’s game in the West of Ireland.

At the launch, Connacht and Ireland out-half Nicole Fowley said the new programme is a great development:

"The growth of women’s rugby in the last number of years in Ireland is testament to initiatives like this. As a young girl rugby was never really an option but nowadays thanks to partnerships like these, girls are getting a chance to start rugby much younger and have a clear pathway to follow which can lead them all the way to the top. It's exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing the future stars growing from grassroots to green shirts."

From left: Paul Madden of Club Force, Charlotte Rose Duffy of Gort RFC, Ivana Klripati of Buccaneers RFC, Eva McCormack of Westport/Connacht U18's, Brian Mahoney of Connacht Rugby and Nicole Fowley of Club Force/Connacht Rugby ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

The plan is in-keeping with the IRFU’s 'Women in Rugby' action plan, which aims to give women in sport opportunity equal to that of their male counterparts. The action plan, which runs until 2023, aims to increase women's participation by 20 percent from youth up to senior level.

The IRFU aims to win a Six Nations title and qualification for the Women's World Cup 2021, as well as qualification for the Olympics and World Cup in Rugby Sevens. It also aims to develop 300 women’s and girls' teams, and 6,500 youth players.

Meanwhile, Connacht Rugby’s new programme will focus the attention at the grassroots level, working with 26 rugby clubs to contribute to player coaching from minis through to the senior women’s teams.

Galway company Clubforce – which provides online management systems for sports clubs – has come on board to help fund the development of a player pathway initiative aimed at getting girls involved in rugby from a young age and improving retention rates.

The issue of girls dropping out of sport is one that’s prevalent across all disciplines. On the latest episode of PlayXPlay Mary O'Connor, former dual Cork GAA player and now the CEO Federation of Irish Sport, shared her views on the topic:

"I actually think that female drop-outs starts at seven, eight years of age. If a girl is not introduced to that sport in the right way, she actually inherits maybe a hatred or a dislike of the sport. Then, when she becomes 13 or 14 and she's able to make decisions for herself, you know she wants to give it up because she doesn't want to look awkward or feel conscious."

From left: Nicole Fowley of Club Force/Connacht Rugby, Ivana Klripati of Buccaneers RFC, Charlotte Rose Duffy of Gort RFC and Eva McCormack of Westport/Connacht U18's ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

At Connacht, getting and keeping girls and women interested in rugby will now be a  clear priority, according to Joe Gorham, Head of Domestic Rugby:

"Women’s Rugby is a key cornerstone of what we in Connacht Rugby are all about, and it is absolutely vital for us that we continue to build on our growing female participation numbers for many years to come. This three-year partnership with Clubforce will provide us with the tools to do exactly that. We are delighted to have them on board and it’s particularly pleasing to see another West of Ireland brand succeeding in the sports industry."

This new initiative is also in support of the #ShowYourStripes as part of the 20x20 campaign. Show Your Stripes is encouraging all sports fans to take one action to support women in sport, such as attending a game.

You can do your part by going to see the Connacht Rugby women’s team play Munster this Saturday at home at 3pm, or to see Leinster face Ulster at 7pm in City of Armagh RFC.