Meet Tiffany Faaee: the first female coach in U.S. men’s professional rugby history 6 months ago

Meet Tiffany Faaee: the first female coach in U.S. men’s professional rugby history

"If you don’t see it, be it!"

Here at Her.ie, we have always championed women in sport.

We have cheered on the Irish hockey team to victory, stood in awe watching Megan Rapinoe play football, and bowed DOWN to Serena Williams.

But, there is so much more to female empowerment in sport than the players.

We're talking the ladies behind the scenes, coaching teams to victory.

One of those women is the lovely Tiffany Faaee, the first female coach in U.S. men’s professional rugby history.

Quite the claim to fame, right?

Naturally, when I first heard about Tiffany, I knew I had to chat to her, and pick her brain on a pretty impressive career to date.

Speaking to me about how she first got into rugby, she explained:

"I found rugby in high school in NZ. I had already been playing touch rugby since I was younger, with my church but rugby Union wasn’t at my school until I was in 5th form."

She retired from playing, and decided to focus her attention on the behind the scenes, and coaching.

"Honestly, I retired with a desire to get behind the scenes but I wasn’t sure which role and at what capacity. Anytime there was a need if I felt I had something to offer, I always put my hand up."

"From being on the athletic board, to going to clinics and speaking with young men and women. When the opportunity came to assist at my old club, I took it. "

Tiff went from coaching her old team, to becoming the female coach in U.S. men’s professional rugby history. In 2018, the California native signed as an assistant coach of Rugby United New York, a Major League Rugby team, that happens to have a special place in my heart (spoiler alert: my brother plays for them).

So, you're probably wondering, what is it like being the first woman to coach in men's professional rugby in the US? Pretty fantastic, it seems.

"It’s been amazing so far. The coaching side of it is the same as any other team I’m involved with. I mean due to personnel and the league the standards vary and the professionalism is something I haven’t experienced before so it’s eye opening and exciting to be involved," she told me.

But for Tiff, the fact that the league is creating opportunities for other women is what excites her the most.

"I am mostly excited that it’s opened doors for so many other women. To see someone you can relate to in a role that’s typically been taken by men has changed our game and it makes me proud of rugby even more. "

 

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But, naturally, being a women in a predominantly male-orientated field comes with challenges.

"I do have a chuckle at referees or the oppositions coach who would walk straight past me and introduce themselves to my assistant coach or the athletic trainer because they assume they are the head coach because they are guys and I’m not."

However, the barriers have been minor, and Tiff is proud to be a role model for women all over the world, who wish to pursue a career in rugby.

"I would say, if you don’t see it, be it. Reach out. We are here and are all keen to help whoever at whatever goal they might feel seems impossible where they are. Whatever your passion is, don’t let others tell you, you can’t."

As for her hopes for women in rugby in the future?

"I hope one day women can represent their Nations or their regions/cities and not have to do it on top of  a full time job just so you can pay rent, insurance and gym memberships.

Here, here!

Now, fingers crossed Rugby United New York win the league this year!

20x20 is an ambitious two-year long initiative to better promote and champion women in sport.

With the tagline of "if she can't see it, she can't be it," the 20x20 movement is calling on everyone to #showyourstripes this March by making one of the following pledges:

• Pledge to PARTICIPATE or play more
• Pledge to ATTEND more women’s sporting events
• Pledge to PROMOTE, discuss, share, like and follow more female athlete

Her and SportsJOE are proud to back the 20x20 movement as official digital media partners.