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Over four days in March, an inspirational group of leaders in women’s sport were brought together by Oceania Rugby to share their experiences and craft plans for the growth of women’s rugby in the region.

Supported by PacificAus Sports, the Oceania Women in Rugby Network Forum 2024 was attended by 19 female delegates, representing unions from across the Pacific. The event created opportunities for the women to collaborate on solutions for the challenges they face in their own countries, as well as providing them with access to professional development workshops on topics including governance, investments and sponsorship, and visibility and engagement. They also talked about how to capitalise on the coverage of women’s rugby at the 2024 Paris Olympics to raise the profile of the game at home.

“It was absolutely phenomenal to see the collaboration, the brainstorming, the sharing and the relationships that were built, and that will continue,” said Dr Teeny Aiken, Rugby Project Officer for Oceania Rugby Women. 

Same, same, but different

According to Dr Aiken, the Forum was developed as a way of fostering a sense of community among leaders who share the common aspiration of driving progress in women’s rugby in their home countries.

“We found women in these roles are quite isolated in their own individual regions and organisations and unions and [yet] they were all facing similar challenges, similar experiences,” said Dr Aiken. “Being able to see the bonds that were happening from people sharing their experiences or saying, ‘I've had this challenge, this was our approach, and these were the successes from it’ – I think that was really amazing.”

On the final day of the forum, the group attended the Super Rugby Women’s match between the Fijian Drua and the New South Wales Waratahs at Churchill Park. It was an opportunity to consolidate relationships in a less formal setting – and much appreciated by delegates including Matilda Tigilai, a board member of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union.

“I was blessed to be part of [the forum with] women who are trailblazers in their own countries,” she said. “They might not have the same problems that I have, but they face challenges as well in their own countries. To know that, and at the same time to just be bonding and helping each other – I’m just blessed to have been part of it.”

The broader agenda for change and growth

The Oceania Women in Rugby Network Forum 2024 is the latest initiative from the Oceania Rise Rugby project, launched by Oceania Rugby in 2022, in partnership with PacificAus Sports.

This off-field initiative is complemented by the continued development of women’s rugby on the field, including the inspiring success of back-to-back Super Rugby Women’s champions the Fijian Drua, the recent establishment of Penina Pasifika, and additional support for the national Rugby 7s programs in Samoa and the Solomon Islands, as announced by PacificAus Sports and Rugby Australia earlier this year.  


Acknowledgement: This story was based on reporting by Women in Rugby, an initiative of World Rugby. Visit for more news about the women’s game around the world. 

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