Rugby Coaches to Promote Gender Equality and Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls through Get Into Rugby PLUS


JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Oceania Rugby and UN Women

Fiji, Pacific Islands — Close to 30 highly skilled coaches have learnt new ways to support equal and safe rugby participation for girls and boys in Fiji.

The training, which finished on the weekend, teaches coaches how to deliver the Get Into Rugby PLUS life skills curriculum to girl and boy rugby players aged 10-14 years, and follows a series of safeguarding, strength and conditioning training held earlier this month in Central and Western divisions.

Photo: Courtesy of Oceania Rugby

Get Into Rugby PLUS is an initiative developed for the Pacific region by UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) in partnership with Oceania Rugby, as part of a broader regional initiative using rugby to promote gender equality and to prevent violence against women and girls.

The programme is co-funded by Oceania Rugby, through Rugby Australia and the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP), and by UN Women Fiji MCO, through the EUR19.5m regional Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) funded by the European Union and Australian Government with support from UN Women.

“Get into Rugby PLUS is distinctive in that it focuses on developing highly skilled coaches – equally skilled in coaching rugby and facilitating life skills learning with young people,” said Erin Hatton, Oceania Rugby’s Sport for Development Manager.

“Building on World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby initiative, additional life skills components are embedded to promote positive behaviour and gender equality, all built around the rugby values of integrity, solidarity, respect, discipline and passion,” Ms Hatton said.

Sandra Bernklau, Representative for UN Women Fiji MCO, explained: “sport can be an effective tool to challenge the preconceived ideas about the roles and abilities of girls and boys, women and men.”

“Promoting an equal playing field in rugby for girls and boys, women and men and opening up discussions about gender, is a key strategy to addressing equality between women and men, and preventing violence against women and girls,” Ms Bernklau said.

The life skills curriculum training was divided into an initial ‘train the trainers’ sessions for coaches to become accredited Get into Rugby PLUS Life Skills Trainers, then a second weeklong training for 20 participating school teachers to learn how to facilitate life skills rugby coaching.

Those who achieve coach accreditation from the training will deliver the Get Into Rugby PLUS programme in selected primary schools across Lautoka and Nausori commencing in Term 2 of the school year.

The training of trainers, critical to enabling the growth of the program in Fiji, has been coordinated by Oceania Rugby and UN Women, and led by ChildFund Australia who created the ChildFund Pass It Back Sport for Development programme from which the Get Into Rugby PLUS curriculum and life skills coach training has been adapted for the Pacific. ChildFund, Oceania Rugby and UN Women have worked cooperatively to use their respective expertise to adapt the ChildFund Pass it Back curriculum and lifeskills coach training for the Pacific.
Chris Mastaglio, ChildFund Pass It Back Director said: “we love having the opportunity to share our experience in Sports for Development programming.”

“Evidence from the ChildFund Pass It Back programme shows that Sport for Development programmes can build children’s social and emotional capacities and leadership skills to make informed decisions, which in turn can contribute to happy and healthy communities. It’s essential for success that these programmes combine quality sport opportunities with well-designed, structured life skills curriculum delivered in safe and inclusive learning environments” Mr. Mastaglio said.

Through the Get into Rugby PLUS training, the coaches learn to focus on human rights, challenge gender stereotypes, prevent violence against women and girls, and integrate life skills and rugby skills activities, to ensure a safe, equal and inclusive environment is provided for girl and boy players.

This is a long-term approach to shifting attitudes and beliefs around gender, power, violence and respectful relationships.

Previous Get into Rugby PLUS training sessions for coaches on gender, gender-based violence (GBV) and human rights sensitisation, have been facilitated by the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC) that provides 24/7 telephone crisis counselling for women and children in Fiji at risk of any form of violence (phone the free DV helpline 1560 or mobile crisis line 920947). 

Teachers involved in Get into Rugby PLUS also complete World Rugby Level 1 Rugby Coaching and Strength and Conditioning courses supported by Fiji Rugby Union.

In addition to GIR PLUS, the regional partnership between Oceania Rugby and UN Women Fiji MCO includes a focus on women’s equal participation in community rugby 7s events and planned research in Fiji and Samoa to better understand the interaction between violence against women, girls and sport in the Pacific.


Media Contacts:
Sarah Walker, Oceania Rugby, Ph: +61 418 678 548 or Email:
Jacqui Berrell, Communications and Media Specialist, UN Women MCO Fiji, Email:  

Pacific Partnership: The EUR 19.5million Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) is funded primarily by the European Union (EUR 12.7m) with targeted support from the Australian Government (EUR 6.2m) and cost-sharing with UN Women (EUR 0.6m). The Pacific Partnership brings together governments, civil society organisations, communities and other partners to promote gender equality, prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG), and increase access to quality response services for survivors. The Pacific Partnership’s three outcome areas are jointly coordinated by UN Women Fiji MCO, the Pacific Community (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat). 

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC): Provides 24/7 telephone crisis counselling for women and children in Fiji at risk of any form of violence (phone the free DV helpline 1560 or mobile crisis line 920947). 

World Rugby: World Rugby is the world governing body for the sport of rugby. World Rugby organises the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport's most recognised and most profitable competition. It also organises a number of other international rugby competitions, such as the World Rugby Sevens Series, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, the World Rugby U20 Championship, World Rugby Pacific Challenge and the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup. Membership of World Rugby, based in Ireland, comprises about 120 national unions from member countries throughout the six global regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America & the Caribbean, South America and Oceania.

ChildFund Australia: ChildFund Australia is a child-focused international aid agency, which implements the award-winning ChildFund Pass It Back programme in partnership with Asia Rugby and World Rugby. Using an integrated life skills and rugby curriculum, the programme equips disadvantaged children and young people in Asia to overcome challenges, inspire positive social change and ‘pass it back’ to their communities. ChildFund is World Rugby’s principal charity partner for Rugby World Cup 2019. The Get into Rugby PLUS curriculum and life skills coach training are based on those of ChildFund Pass it Back, and have been adapted for the Pacific through cooperation between ChildFund, Oceania Rugby and UN Women.

Rugby Australia and Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP): The AUD35 million Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP) programme is the Australian Government’s flagship Sport for Development programme in the Pacific. Through PSP, Australia supports activities to address primary risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases, particularly physical inactivity, and address inequalities experienced by women, girls and people living with disability. Delivered through partnerships between the Australian Government and Australian, regional and Pacific Island sports organisations, the programme currently supports sixteen sports across nine countries. Rugby Australia is a PSP partner and delivers through and with Oceania Rugby.

Oceania Rugby: Oceania Rugby is one of six regional associations of World Rugby, responsible for representing the interests of its Members, which includes 15 Member Unions and 1 Associate Member Union. Oceania Rugby works closely with Member Unions on the development and reach of Rugby in the region to promote the growth of Rugby throughout Oceania. Central to this is a series of tournaments and development programmes run and coordinated by Oceania Rugby.

UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji: A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) based in Fiji, covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works to progress gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific through four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women and Girls; Women’s Political Empowerment, Leadership and Human Rights; and Gender and Protection in Humanitarian Action.