Woman in Rugby is the Erasmus+ Sport project involving the Italian Rugby Federation, the Romanian Rugby Federation and the Valsugana Rugby Padova and Sportivo Aurora Baicoi Clubs (jointly the "Project Promoters") to promote education in sport through sport and to combat any form of discrimination and intolerance, with a focus on gender equality (the "Project").
The Project, co-funded by the European Erasmus+ program, involves the organization of educational and informational activities in secondary schools in Italy and Romania and in the two Clubs participating in the project, to promote and encourage the diffusion of the Women's Game, to grow a new vision of Rugby that fosters the integration of women and at the same time breaks down the stereotype of rugby as a men-only sport by enhancing its playful and educational function.
The sport of rugby is often regarded as a sport for men. In ingrained stereotypes, only strong men with a powerful body can practice this sport. This is also the thought that recurs among parents but even in schools that too often precludes girls from even trying this sport. Moreover, too often women who try to practice this sport are subjected to discrimination and very often, because of this, they abandon sport in general.
In almost all European countries, levels of physical activity begin to drop significantly between eleven and fifteen years of age and this is especially true among girls: more than 86% of girls aged fifteen have been physically inactive.
Across the EU, men exercise, play sport or engage in other physical activity more than women. This disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group, with young men tending to exercise or play sport on a regular basis considerably more than young women: just 29% of boys aged 15-24 never or seldom exercise or play sport, compared with 47% of girls in the same age group.
In this context the project specific objectives are:
- To identify and collect best practices carried out in rugby for women.
- To investigate the perception of rugby in girls.
- To increase the number of girls that play rugby.
- To reduce the dropouts of girls in sport.
- To increase the level of knowledge of the importance of ruby in the development of specific
- To ensure the correct project monitoring and management.
- To communicate the project activities and to develop a proper communication campaign
The approach behind the project, developed to successfully achieve the objectives, includes:
- introduction of rugby in schools: the choice of organizing such workshops in schools falls intothe need to promote the educational and inclusive function of Rugby. Rugby is a sport where inaddition to physical and mental tests, leadership, sociability, and intuition are naturallydeveloped and that’s why it can strongly encourage the development of specific skills that willalso be useful in the future life. The school can also play an important role in promoting genderequality, non-discrimination and inclusiveness, as well as the benefits of sport and physicalactivity.
- Investigation about orientation and knowledge of rugby in girls: this first phase of research willbe fundamental to proceed with the development of a targeted and more attractive proposal for the female gender, and to implement a communication campaign that can reach and impact as many girls as possible. More information will also lead to a more conscious choice of young women about the sport to practice.
- Organization of workshops with parents: Rugby is considered a male sport as the perception is that the predominant characteristic is strength. By educating parents about how well rugby is indicated and formative for their girls' future, they will acquire a greater inclination in encouraging girls to start it.
- Organization of workshops with girls: by illustrating the best practices adopted in the field and bringing the girls closer to the sport of rugby through moments of exchange and comparison, also the investigative activities developed in the first phase will be continued, with the aim of gathering more information on their perception towards this sport. Workshops will have an informative phase about the explanation of benefits of rugby for girls, and a training phase which will concern the real practice of rugby, in order to teach girls the basics of this sport and finally to encourage its practice.
"Woman in Rugby" aims to encourage higher levels of physical activity for girls, their leadership, sociability, and intuition, all of which are skills that can be successfully applied off the playing field in terms of time planning, social relationship management, and increased self-esteem.
On February 28, 2022, the partners met at Valsugana Rugby for the kick-off meeting of the project and, after presenting their realities and explaining the situation of women's rugby in their country, organized the next activities.
Clubs Valsugana Rugby and Aurora Baicoi have defined the schedule of meetings they will hold in schools in September, while FIR and FRR will be busy collecting responses to the survey that will involve more than 100 Italian and Romanian female rugby and non-rugby athletes between the ages of 10 and 18 in the coming months for an analysis of the perception of women's rugby. The results will be included in a report that FIR will make available and on the basis of which the project's communication campaign will be addressed with the aim of promoting the spread of women's rugby.