Rugby is on the rise and girls and women are leading that growth. While USA Rugby has long been a leader in female participation, numbers at the youth levels show there are just over 1,000 girls playing non-contact rugby in the U.S. Rookie Rugby and other state-based programs have driven youth participation for USA Rugby and brought thousands of youth and their families to the game. Unfortunately, without specifically targeting girls, much of the effort to grow the youth game has resulted in a disproportionate increase in the number of boys playing the game at that level.
Enter Girls Rugby. Girls Rugby aims to support girls in reaching their potential through rugby with a strong values-based curriculum delivered through girls-only, flag rugby programs around the country. The company’s focus is on girls in grades 2 through 8 and will offer the opportunity to play rugby while learning about positive core values and gaining life skills. The goal is to expand their initial pilot programs into programming in cities across the country.
“We are so excited to launch Girls Rugby and proud of the product we’ve put together. We want to increase the opportunities for girls to change their lives through the game we love,” explained Hannah Harper, a Girls Rugby co-founder. Joined by Jenn Heinrich and Erin Kennedy, the three founders are fiercely optimistic about their outlook; “We are incredibly passionate about reaching a broader audience of girls and making a positive impact through rugby. We have seen the success of building girl-specific programs and how successful they can be when done well. We want to be the catalyst for programs all over the US.”
Although the team is focused on finding unique ways to fund these programs, one of the core tenants of growing the girls game is garnering supportive stakeholders and donors. Wide-scale support is needed to ensure these programs can grow into the life-changing experiences the founders know they can be. “We want to engage the rugby community and provide an opportunity to support our mission. Every dollar we raise expands the reach of our program and allows us to start more leagues,” details Jenn Heinrich. “We are so thankful for every penny raised and we are excited about using our pilot programs as a catalyst for building more programs in more cities across the country”.
When asking the co-founders what the future looks like, it seems crystal clear. Imagine Girls Rugby programs in every state around the U.S. This is something they aim to achieve using their model for development and their very valuable staff and volunteers. “It is our aim to hire program coordinators in every location to manage various leagues. Creating paid positions in rugby is a major goal of ours and we hope that we can put many women and men into these roles. In addition to these program coordinators, we will rely heavily on our volunteer coaches and referees, who we plan to support with comprehensive training, materials, and a mentorship program to ensure that they are successful in delivering Girls Rugby programs,” said Erin Kennedy.
Girls Rugby aims to redefine the way that rugby is branded for girls through the delivery of their programs and their presence online. Girls Rugby will be partnering with USA Rugby in its first year to achieve shared goals and outcomes through their pilot programs. You can learn more about Girls Rugby by visiting www.girlsrugbyinc.com.