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2022 Women’s Scholars...

2022 Women’s Scholarships

Twelve inspiring women awarded Executive Leadership Scholarships as World Rugby drives gender parity across the game

  • Global rugby family celebrating International Women’s Day to #BreakTheBias
  • Twelve inspiring women from 12 nations receive transformational scholarships
  • World Rugby’s Women in Rugby plan accelerating positive change on and off the field

On International Women’s Day, World Rugby has announced the 12 inspirational women who have been awarded Executive Leadership Scholarships for 2022 as the international federation reaffirms its commitment to developing talented, female leaders throughout the game.

With two representatives from each of the six regions, the 12 women have been selected from Botswana, Ivory Coast, Nepal, Taiwán, Germany, Ukraine, New Zealand, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Argentina and Brazil.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias and calls for equality through a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and encourages the celebration of women’s achievements.

A core component of World Rugby’s Accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25 strategic plan is driving global diversity, particularly in leadership pipelines.

The Executive Leadership Scholarship programme identifies and supports the current and next generation of female leaders in world rugby, supporting inspirational role models to fulfil their potential and create further parity across the game.

The scholarships can be used to enhance the professional development of the successful applicants through a variety of opportunities such as formal or informal education, conferences, workshops, mentoring, secondments, or best practice study tours.

The 2022 Scholarship recipients are:

  • Kamana Giri (Nepal) – Deputy Chairperson/Women’s Development Committee Media Manager for Nepal Rugby Association
  • Zi-Yu Chen (Taiwan – Former national team player and coach of The Chinese Taipei Rugby Football Union women’s team
  • Rowena Davenport (New Zealand) – Chairperson of Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU), member of New Zealand Secondary School Rugby Strategic Advisory Council, Team Leader of Women in Rugby Aotearoa’s (WIRA) Board and Committees Group, member of New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) Nga Miro Steering Committee, Chairperson of Highlanders Provincial Union Limited Partnership
  • Mere Rakoroi (Fiji) – Board Member, Fiji Rugby Union
  • Gorata Kgathi (Botswana) – Former national team player, rugby coach, Chairperson of the Women’s Committee
  • Adjoa Isabelle Yeboua (Ivory Coast) – Chairperson of the Women’s Committee
  • Kanisha Vincent (Trinidad and Tobago) – Chairperson, Selection Committee
  • Jessica Dombrowski (USA) – USA Rugby Membership and Affinity Senior Manager
  • Alena Abbot (Germany) – Youth Officer at Deutscher Rugby Verband
  • Olga Surkova (Ukraine) – Former national team player, international referee with Rugby Europe
  • Bárbara Pichot (Argentina) – Sudamérica Rugby (SAR) Women’s Rugby Coordinator
  • Natasha Olsen (Brazil) – Referee with the Confederação Brasileira de Rugby (CBRU) ), member of the CBRU Administrative Council and Second Vice-President of the SAR Governing Board

Women’s Advisory Committee Chair Serge Simon said: “It is a great honour to be able to announce the next 12 recipients of World Rugby’s Executive Leadership Scholarships. This programme has a proven track record of supporting and accelerating women into leadership positions in our sport, and we have been inspired by the great things that past scholars have gone on to achieve.

“We are fully committed to ensuring that women are better represented within leadership positions across the game, where they are involved in strategy and decision making, and are celebrated for being the fantastic role models that they are for our future generations.”

Previous scholarship recipients include the likes of Nahid Biyarjomandi, a World Rugby Unstoppable who founded Iran’s first women’s rugby club. In 2016, she was appointed by the Iran Rugby Federation as head of its development committee, overseeing both women’s and men’s participation, and currently sits on the union’s board.


Biyarjomandi was awarded a World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship in 2021 and is dedicated to using her scholarship to work with others in developing leadership skills in sport, as well as the development of personality skills that are necessary to those in leadership positions.

Other past recipients have gone on to fill governance roles at a local, national and regional level and the knowledge gained along the way has been passed down to those who have come after them.