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© 2019 US Women's Rugby Foundation. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019 U.S. Women's Rugby Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

NEWSIE (NZ): More women coaching rugby than ever before

Read the original article from Newsie


Photo: Photosport, courtesy of Newsie

Pre-season training has already begun for many clubs, including the men and women at Old Boys University, one of Wellington's premier sides.


But among the six managers, coaches and strength and conditioning specialists getting the players match-ready, one stands out.


Tara Horsnell is the club's first female head-coach since it was established in 1897, a role she said was rare to see when she was growing up.


"I was always coached by men. Always had male coaches, I mean we had the women on the field, I guess you could say they were on-field coaches, but they never had that coaching title."


The club has also appointed its first women's rugby development manager.


Meanwhile, the success of the Black Ferns on the world stage has been unprecedented in recent years. They've won more world cups than the All Blacks and have the highest winning percentage of any international rugby team.


As their success flourishes year to year, the number of female players keeps growing.


There are more than 27,000 female players, 8000 more than there were four years ago.


But the success of women's rugby at the top-level had also created pathways for others, like Tara, who said she could now see a career in coaching.


"Girls now have role models to look up to within playing and within coaching. You see the likes of the Farah Palmer Cup teams at the moment, how many of those teams have female coaches in either assistant or head-coaching roles?


"I've had a sit-down with the coaching guys at OBU and they've told me pathways and things that they've identified like courses and coaching experiences to eventually coach higher-levels like rep, or maybe the Black Ferns one day, who knows."


The former rugby coach of the Black Ferns Sevens Development Team, Crystal Kaua, said massive changes in women's rugby had made the increase of female coaches possible.


"Five years ago I think the picture would've been different to what it is today. I think there's been some massive changes in just the fact that women players are doing so well and the game is very watchable, the level is increasing rapidly, it's now professional and overseas it's growing so fast as well.


"It just means that there's more opportunity to coach."


Head of Women's Rugby Development, Cate Sexton, said there were more pathways for women to coach than ever before with development programmes available for women interested in coaching at all levels.


But coaching a game still dominated by men did have its challenges.


Te Maari MacGregor, who coaches the under 18 Hawke's Bay women's secondary team, said it was still rare to find women coaching men.


"I don't know if I have seen any women coaches coaching a men's team. I don't know if in my career at least I will see anything like that. I mean, yes there will be the ones with the mums coaching their own son's team, but when it comes to a club or higher-level team I don't know if women want to or if they have been encouraged."


But Ms Kaua was optimistic that would change.


"In the last three years I haven't found any resistance as a female coach. Coaching is evolving, teams are evolving, you listen to any of the top coaches speak now and it's so much more about vulnerability, about the belief, and you're looking at completely different things to what used to be looked at."


The number of registered female coaches has increased each year, but the momentum is yet to reach women's rugby at the very top, with the Black Ferns yet to appoint its first female coach.


The success and exposure of women's rugby on the world stage has not only bolstered a growth in players, it's also opened doors for women wanting to coach the game.


There are now 1210 registered female rugby coaches in New Zealand, an increase of more than 300 since 2016, and the most the country has ever seen.