World Rugby: Female coaching internships for 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup announced

By Sara OrchardBBC Sport
Team head coaches at the 2020 Women's Six Nations launch
France head coach Annick Hayraud was the only woman on the senior coaching staff of any team at the 2020 Women's Six Nations

World Rugby will fund 12 coaching internships for women before the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

All nations competing in the tournament can nominate one coach to join their staff.

The sport's governing body says the aim of the initiative is to address a lack of female coaches at the elite level of the men's and women's game.

World Rugby has set itself a target of 40% of all coaching staff at the 2025 Women's Rugby World Cup being women.

Of the 12 head coaches at the 2017 tournament, only one - or 8% - was female. By comparison, at football's 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup, 37% - nine out of 24 - of the team's managers were women.

Katie Sadleir, World Rugby's women's general manager, said: "At the end of the [2021] World Cup, there will be 12 more women who can say on their CV that they have coached at a World Cup.

"It's one of the barriers some women have in terms of getting head coach roles.

"You get into that chicken and egg situation where they can't get the job because they don't have the experience, and they can't get the experience so they can't get the job."

Sadleir said the internships are "not about driving men out of coaching positions" but ensuring "more opportunities exist for women", and also aimed at changing perceptions within the sport.

"There will be many women players who think men coaches are better than women coaches," she added.

"They haven't been coached by women so they haven't experienced women to the same extent, and that will change."

The interns are all expected to come from a World Rugby database of more than 100 female coaches. All are already coaching at an agreed standard for their union and have been identified as having talent.

The first interns are set to be announced later in September.

The 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup is scheduled to take place between 18 September and 16 October in Auckland and Whangarei.

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