The International Rugby Board plans to hold its first conference aimed specifically at boosting female participation in the Rugby disciplinary process throughout the game.
The IRB Women's Disciplinary Conference to be held in Dublin on February 16-17 will bring together a strong group of 16 northern hemisphere Union representatives from the legal, rugby judicial, playing and match officiating fraternity who have been identified as having the potential to perform at domestic, elite and international level.
Many are already embedded within the judicial systems of their home Unions and will be hoping to hone those experiences to expand their practices further afield.
The top candidates will initially be fast-tracked to support flagship IRB events such as the Women's Rugby World Cup, Women’s Seven World Sevens and International Women's Rugby for elite level exposure and experience.
The initiative underscores the IRBs commitment to promoting the highest-possible standards in this key area of the sport's administration and has been supported by the participating Unions of England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and UAE. A similar conference is planned for later in the year for southern hemisphere Unions.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Women's Rugby is one of the world's fastest-growing team sports with more than one million women and girls actively participating. The IRB has ambitious plans to double that figure by the time Women's Sevens debuts at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and central to that mission is the participation of women in all facets of the sport."
"With such phenomenal growth comes the need for greater administrative support at all levels and this important initiative will identify a raft of new talent that will ultimately benefit women's and men's elite Rugby and deliver the next generation of disciplinary officers that will protect the integrity of the Game."
Mirroring similar programmes successfully run at the IRB Junior World Championship and IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy events and in selected Unions, the conference is intended to provide a springboard into international Rugby, while delivering the consistency and best-practice required for the integrity of the Rugby disciplinary process.
IRB Chief Disciplinary Officer Susan Ahern added: "We have been impressed by the appetite and support for this essential programme from our Member Unions. Working in collaboration with our Unions, we are continually looking to identify and develop new talent and create the next generation of disciplinary officers and citing commissioners who have the potential to represent the IRB at our showcase women's and men's events."
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