The Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) has announced that Elenoa Kunatuba from Fiji has been appointed as the first Oceania Regional Women’s Rugby Development Officer.
The position, which is jointly funded by the International Rugby Board and the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), is the first of its kind for the Oceania region. It is one of a number of initiatives that has been launched following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between FORU and ONOC earlier this year.
William Glenwright, the IRB General Manager for Oceania, announced the historic appointment today, and said that “the appointment is a significant step forward for the development of the Women’s Game in the Oceania region.”
“The inclusion of Rugby Sevens on the Olympic Programme for 2016 and 2020 has opened up a great opportunity for us to grow the Women’s Game in the Oceania Region. Indeed, a key focus of the MOU between FORU and the IRB is on the growth of Women’s Rugby and we are delighted to have someone of the calibre of Elenoa on our team to drive that growth in Oceania,” said Glenwright.
IRB Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said that the appointment was the first of its kind in the world and believes Kunatuba’s appointment will significantly progress the development of the Women’s Game in the Region as we look forward to the 2016 Olympic Games.
“FORU is the first region to employ someone with a specific mandate to grow women’s Rugby. With the completion of the Women’s Strategic Plan, we have many exciting initiatives planned around the world and Elenoa’s appointment will be fundamental to delivering those programs successfully in Oceania,” Carty said.
Elenoa comes to the position with a wealth of experience in rugby and the business community. The Semo, Nadroga villager was educated at Suva Grammar School before going on to study business and payroll accounting. She is an IRB Accredited Educator as well as an IRB level 1 Referee and IRB Level 3 Coach.
In the past few years Kunatuba has been a successful player/coach with the Fijian club side Teivovo; coached at club level in Fiji (Sea Hawks) at both 15s and Sevens for a number of high level victories; coached the Suva provincial women’s team and coached internationally with the Fijian women’s team and most recently as head coach of the national women’s team of India.
“I feel I have a lot to offer the development of Rugby, especially with it now being included in the Olympic Games. I hope my involvement across the Oceania region will help promote rugby in each of the Member Unions and then for this to be reflected in the Olympic Games arena,” Kunatuba said.
“I am thankful for the support from Fiji Women’s Rugby Union as they played a part in my career development. Hopefully other women will now be more aware that there is a career pathway in Women’s Rugby whether it is on the field or on the sideline."