Irish Rugby is once again looking forward to International Women’s Day on March 8th and will mark the day with LiveWIRE 2022 – The IRFU’s third annual Women In Rugby Event.
The coffee morning via video conference kicks off at 11am and this year will discuss the theme of leadership from the ground up, celebrating the determination of women who have taken their leadership journey from the kitchen to Presidency and those who are inspiring others to take the next step.
“There are women who may not have played rugby or maybe feel they don’t know enough about rugby but they’re forgetting about the other skills they’ve got to offer from a club development point of view, says IRFU Spirit of Rugby Programme Manager Anne Marie Hughes. This event is a chance to listen to ordinary women who are influencing others to take the next step, they are an example of how hard work and the will to give back to the club are as important as their knowledge of the laws of the game. “We all celebrate the achievements of the high performers but not everybody can see themselves in that light and we wanted to look at that broader context and what that might mean for diversity within decision making across the clubs.”
Deborah Carty will be one of the speakers at LiveWIRE 2022. She became an active member of Wexford Wanderers RFC since her son started playing in 2002. Having started out as the social secretary of her club, she is now the Senior Vice President of Leinster Rugby.
The discussion is also featuring Liz Brady. The Mayo native is the Club & Community Women’s Lead for Connacht Rugby and very much a leader within Westport RFC. Liz was also a participant of the IRFU’s Leadership Development Programme.
The programme has helped to accelerate to the development of volunteer leaders in Irish Rugby since it was first offered in 2018. Hughes says it’s a programme that clubs really see the benefit of when volunteers get involved.
“From a personal development point of view, they make better volunteers as they focus on getting to know themselves as leaders and understand other leadership perspective. As a result, they make better decisions within the club, but they’re also sharing good practise with other clubs and that networking aspect has been one of the most valuable things.”
“Specifically on the female side of it, we identified that we need more women in decision making positions at club, provincial and national levels. That’s why we launched a female leadership programme and this season we have a group of female leaders who have designed and implemented 4 pilot projects, 3 of which focus on females, building confidence in coaching, refereeing and administration roles. We’ve also developed the President’s National Mentoring programme, supporting females to move into provincial and national roles, with senior officials within the IRFU signposting new leadership opportunities across the organisation.
Eve Higgins will also discuss her journey at LiveWIRE 2022. Away from the rugby pitch, the Ireland 15s & 7s international also sits on the IRFU Youth Council and has played a pivotal role in giving a voice to young people in Irish Rugby. Through a series of youth consultations within clubs Eve is aware of the role she can play in influencing the next generation.
“Eve would say the experience she’s having as a young decision maker is very different to the two other women on the panel and that’s encouraging for the direction we’re headed in,” says Hughes.
“Diversity is so important and it’s not just because more girls are playing rugby, it’s because it’s better for clubs’ sustainability, to reflect the community in which they operate and future proof the game. And it’s not just diversity on the pitch, it’s around the committee table too.”
The event on International Women’s Day will be of interest to those would like to be more confident in the role they already have and to those who wish to take their journey in rugby a little further.
“Sometimes women have been slow to put their hands because they didn’t come through the traditional rugby path and there can be a little bit of imposter syndrome,” says Hughes. “So our role, from a governing body point of view, is about creating the opportunity to take the next step and supporting future leaders as they take that opportunity.”
Registration for LiveWIRE 2022 is free and available on Eventbrite.ie and IrishRugby.ie
Tuesday March 8th 2022
LiveWIRE 2022 – Leadership and Change in Rugby, 11:00 – 11:30
Event to take place via Microsoft Teams Live
Line-up To Include:
Eve Higgins – Ireland 15s & 7s International, IRFU Youth Council
Deborah Carty – Leinster Rugby Senior Vice President
Liz Brady – Connacht Rugby Club & Community Women’s Lead
Gráinne McElwain will MC the event