Rugby Australia has commenced a consultation process to review High Performance Women’s Rugby programs in Australia for 2020 and 2021.
The review has been prompted by the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games, which is now set to be held in July 2021, just weeks prior to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
With Rugby’s two major women’s events within a four-year cycle set to be staged side-by-side in 2021, Rugby Australia is reviewing its domestic programs to ensure the Qantas Australian Sevens Women and Buildcorp Wallaroos are provided with the optimal preparation for those tournaments.
As with all areas of Rugby Australia’s business operations, the impact of COVID-19 also needs to be considered, including health and safety implications, government restrictions and financial constraints.
The consultation will involve many stakeholders across the women’s game, including a selected group of Aussie 7s and Buildcorp Wallaroos players.
One of the key changes for 2020 confirmed ahead of the consultation is the cancellation of the original four-tournament AON Uni Sevens Series schedule, which was due to be played in September and October. As part of the consultation with all participating universities, UniSport AUS and partners an alternative format will be considered for late 2020 including regional competition options. In addition, the scheduling and format of the 2021 AON Uni Sevens Series and Buildcorp Super W will also be reviewed.
Rugby Australia Head of Women’s Rugby and Participation, Jilly Collins said: “The scheduling change for the Olympic Games has turned 2021 into a golden year for women’s Rugby. With both pinnacle events taking place in the Asia-Pacific region, there is a great opportunity for women’s Rugby to be supercharged in Australia next year.
“This makes it particularly important that the current financial challenges brought about by COVID-19 do not undermine the fantastic progress we have made in women’s Rugby. Whilst we must face up to the unprecedented challenges we are facing, we need to work creatively and collaboratively to secure its future going forward.
“We need to consider how best to work within the constraints we have whilst delivering standards that are commensurate with High Performance sport. This includes working with stakeholders to offset costs and bring in new revenue.”
The Rugby Australia Board remains fully supportive of women’s Rugby.
Rugby Australia Chairman, Paul McLean said: “Whilst this is a particularly challenging time for Rugby as a whole, our women’s programs and two women’s national teams remain a priority. It is important a thorough consultation process is undertaken to ensure we have a plan for 2020 and 2021 that will best prepare our players, whilst at the same time is realistic given the financial challenges the organisation faces.”