The Gallagher High Performance Academy: Empowering Women in Rugby

The inaugural intake of the Gallagher High Performance Academy will gain invaluable experience and professional support in their coaching roles. Photo: Supplied

The inaugural Gallagher High Performance Academy has welcomed sixteen female coaches who have been embedded with their national teams during WXV 1, 2, and 3 in New Zealand, South Africa, and the UAE respectively. 

Established by World Rugby and Gallagher, the Gallagher High Performance Academy aims to offer a comprehensive development and leadership program with the mission of increasing the prominence of female coaches and high-performance roles in rugby. 

This global development and leadership program will empower female coaches and other high-performance roles at elite levels of the sport, and by providing a fully immersive experience and professional support, the Academy seeks to increase the prominence of women in rugby and improve the overall standard of the women’s game worldwide.

The ultimate goal is to have female coaches make up a minimum of 40 percent of all coaches at Rugby World Cup 2025.

By focusing on talent identification, professional support, and championing the next generation of international level coaches, World Rugby aims to raise standards both on and off the field. 

An Immersive Experience for Participants

Through the participation of talented coaches and high-performance individuals, the Academy seeks to raise the standards of women’s rugby globally and increase the representation of female coaches at Rugby World Cup 2025. 

Like Jordaan, the other participants in the Gallagher High Performance Academy are embedded with their respective nations, gaining valuable experience in a high-performance sporting environment. 

Prior to and during the WXV 2023 tournament, participants have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge through meaningful professional development opportunities. 

Online workshops, hosted by World Rugby and supported by Gallagher, cover a range of topics including game planning, tactics, skill development, relationships, communication, and creating the right culture. Two in-person workshops are also scheduled during WXV 2023 to facilitate networking, knowledge transfer, and the sharing of best practices.

The 16 Female Coaches in the Inaugural Gallagher High Performance Academy Intake:

Meretiana Robinson (Australia): Former Rebels co-captain who has transitioned into coaching after retiring from playing.
Lissete Martínez (Colombia): Colombia coach who came close to guiding her team to a Rugby World Cup appearance.
Sarah Hunter (England): Former England captain and Rugby World Cup winner who now serves as a defense coach for the England team.
Tavaita Rowati (Fiji): Former international player who turned to coaching after a career-ending knee injury.
Larissa Muldoon (Ireland): Two-time Women’s Six Nations winning scrum-half who has represented Ireland in multiple Rugby World Cups.
Michela Merlo (Italy): A latecomer to rugby who rose to represent Italy and has been inspired to take up coaching.
Yoko Suzuki (Japan): Former player for the Sakura Sevens who has transitioned into coaching schoolchildren and university students.
Natalia Vlassova (Kazakhstan): Former Kazakh international who now coaches at a specialist rugby school.
Camilyne Oyuayo (Kenya): Current skills and scrum coach for the Lionesses, having represented Kenya in sevens as a player.
Crystal Kaua (New Zealand): Experienced coach in New Zealand and Japan, currently serving as the head coach of Chiefs Manawa and skills coach for the Black Ferns Sevens.
Alaiumu Sao Taliu (Samoa): Assistant coach at College Rifles rugby club and attack coach for Auckland Thunder.
Claire Bain (Scotland): Former Scotland fly-half and assistant coach of Watsonian Women.
Zenay Jordaan (South Africa): The most-capped player in Springbok Women history, currently retired and focusing on coaching.
Patricia García Rodriguez (Spain): Rio 2016 Olympian and former captain of Spain’s national team.
Catrina Nicholas-McLaughlin (Wales): Wales U18 head coach and ex-international flanker.
Karameli Faaee (USA): Former Women’s Eagles captain who made history as the first woman to coach in men’s professional rugby in the USA.

The Gallagher High Performance Academy aims to have a lasting impact on the women’s game by developing existing coaching talent and identifying new women coaches and high-performance roles in rugby. 

By improving the overall standard of women’s rugby around the world, the Academy contributes to the strategic plan of accelerating the global development of women in rugby and increasing the competitiveness of Rugby World Cup 2025.

As a founding partner of World Rugby’s High Performance Academy, Gallagher demonstrates its commitment to developing participation in the women’s game worldwide. Gallagher is also an Official Partner of Women’s Rugby, WXV 2023 & 2024, and Rugby World Cup 2025, further emphasising its support for the growth and empowerment of women in sport.

Photo Caption: The inaugural intake of the Gallagher High Performance Academy will gain invaluable experience and professional support in their coaching roles. Photo: Supplied

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