The World Rugby High Performance Academy was the first ever rugby academy of its kind for women and the first where coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, and match officials combined for many of the training sessions. The Academy took place over 5 days at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sports (SAS) in Stellenbosch, South Africa with 43 participants representing 16 rugby unions from which they were nominated for their exceptional performance in their individual disciplines. Participants were nominated by their respective unions for their hard work and potential to become top-level referees and coaches.
US women invited and in attendance at Stellenbosch were Amanda Cox, Amelia Luciano, Jamie Burke, Kate Daley, Michaela Staniford, and Sylvia Braaten.
Several WRCRA members were among the US women at the event. Hear more from them about their experience:
"This conference allowed me to network with other referees, coaches, and rugby specific strength trainers from around the world and learn about specific aspects of high performance sport including time-management, training, coping with stress and criticism as well as referee specific training. The Stellenbosch Academy was another opportunity to prepare for my first international refereeing experiences this coming summer." - Amelia Luciano
"It's really inspiring to be a part of the first cohort of this all women's World Rugby High Performance Academy in South Africa which is a true epicenter of world rugby and sport in general. It's rare that we get the opportunity to work side-by-side with experts in coaching, strength and conditioning and match officiating domestically, let alone from the international stage to really hone our craft and get feedback that allows us to develop professionally. So this opportunity is a real gift. - Jamie Burke
"It was amazing to be surrounded by women from across the globe who face similar challenges working in rugby. We discussed ways that the various strands can support each other and ways in which we can make space for more women to be involved. With the referee group specifically, we were successful in creating a positive atmosphere were people felt comfortable sharing experiences and debating law without judgement. It was really a unique experience and thanks to Alhambra Nieves and Alain Rolland for having the vision and being forward thinking enough to put together the programming." - Amanda Cox
Photo Credits: Amanda Cox and Amelia Luciano