Oceania Rugby Women’s Director to the World Rugby Council Cathy Wong has acknowledged and appreciate the participation of the Vanuatu women’s 7s team in their first 2019 Oceania 7s championship which will be held at the ANZ Stadium in Suva on November 7-9.
“This year’s Oceania Rugby Sevens has a record number of women’s teams and we are excited about Vanuatu who will field an International Women’s Rugby team for the very first time in its sporting history.
“The Championships continues to provide pathways for women in the region to play rugby, with Oceania Rugby and World Rugby experiencing a surge in women taking up the game as seen with Pacific nations fielding for the first time in sporting histories Women’s International Rugby teams including Solomon Islands in 2017, Nauru in 2018 and Vanuatu in 2019,” Ms Wong said.
Oceania Rugby General Manager Bruce Cook said teams such as Vanuatu debuting in the Women’s Sevens is a great step for rugby in Oceania.
“Oceania Rugby continues to build and broaden opportunities for Women in Rugby in the region,” Cook said.
“To have Vanuatu field an International Rugby team for the very first time, exemplifies our commitment to promoting an equal playing field for all in Rugby,” he added.
In addition to Vanuatu, women’s teams competing for the first time at the Oceania Rugby Sevens this year are Canada and Japan SDS in the international section of the draw.
The draw for the women’s teams competing this year is divided into two tiers, given this year’s tournament will also feature the Olympic qualification, including:
Women’s Oceania Olympic section
Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu,
Women’s Oceania International side
Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada.
Using rugby to promote gender equality and longer term to prevent violence against women is central to an agreement between Oceania Rugby and UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), which is supported by the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.
Abigail Erikson, Ending Violence Against Women Programme Specialist for UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO), that works across 14 Pacific Island countries, said the Oceania Sevens is a great example of the commitment by Oceania Rugby to change and to encourage more equal participation of women and girls in all aspects of the sport’s administration and competitions.
“UN Women, as the global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, is proud to work together with Oceania Rugby toward an equal playing field,” said Ms Erikson said.
“By supporting more women and girls to play rugby and other sports at an equal level with men, we can encourage social change by demonstrating there is no limit to what women and girls can do.”
This is the third time UN Women is joining Oceania Rugby as its gender equality partner at Oceania Rugby Sevens, with joint activities to include a ‘Women in Rugby and the Media Forum’; a video promoting equal participation in rugby; social media to promote an #EqualPlayingField, and general event support to promote women in rugby.