£3million set to be shared among Lions nations for women’s rugby

By Sports Desk April 16, 2024

A new £3million funding initiative will aim to help develop more players and coaches from across the British Isles ahead of the first British and Irish Lions Women’s tour in 2027.

The Lions will play three Tests against world champions New Zealand during September 2027 and are also expected to have warm-up fixtures against provincial sides.

Among the challenges facing the historic tour is England’s clear superiority over the other unions, which has seen the Red Roses dominate the Six Nations – with Saturday’s 46-0 victory over Scotland in Edinburgh stretching their overall winning run in the tournament to 27 matches.

Backed by the Lions Women’s team founding partner Royal London, the £3m ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ pathways funding grant will be utilised in tailored plans for each union to best match their needs.

The Irish Rugby Football Union has decided to use the funding to host additional women’s under-18 and under-20 camps and training matches to accelerate player development as well as developing a ‘Coach Accelerator Scholarship Program’ and working with universities to identify future talent.

The Welsh Rugby Union will strengthen its women’s pathway coaching staff with five new members, including a performance pathway coach and specialist skills coach. The WRU will also invest in talent identification programmes, and initiatives to engage Welsh qualified talent based outside of the nation.

Scottish Rugby is set to recruit two ‘Performance Pipeline’ coaches and will deliver additional youth camps and training matches to accelerate development within the teams as well as hosting residential camps for a national academy.

The Rugby Football Union will use the grant to further develop England’s current player development groups, which will help increase the targeted skill development of players coming through the pathway.

It is hoped collaborative working and shared research and ideas will help develop playing standards and give the Lions Women’s squad the best chance of a successful tour to in New Zealand in three years’ time.

Lions chief executive Ben Calveley said: “Supporting the growth of the women’s game is a key strategic priority for the British and Irish Lions as it is for each of our constituent unions.

“Royal London’s ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ grant represents a significant investment into the women’s game in the four unions and will make a positive impact on women’s rugby.”

Related items

  • All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby

    New Zealand captain Sam Cane has announced he will retire from international rugby at the end of 2024, having agreed a three-year contract with Japan Rugby League One team Tokyo Sungoliath.

    Cane made his All Blacks debut in 2012 and has represented his country 95 times, including through the team's triumphant run at the 2015 World Cup.

    The flanker succeeded Kieran Read as captain in 2020, though his most recent international outing ended with him suffering the ignominy of becoming the first man to be sent off in a Rugby World Cup final, as New Zealand were beaten by South Africa last year.

    Cane will be eligible to represent the All Blacks through the second half of 2024 after returning from an initial spell in Japan but will then head there permanently after New Zealand Rugby agreed to release him from his contract. 

    "A good opportunity came my way with Sungoliath willing to offer me a three-year contract," Cane said. "I had to weigh up everything and, in the end, with a young family it seemed like the best decision to help set us up for our future.

    "I had my time as captain and it was a huge honour and privilege. If I'm fortunate enough to be selected for the All Blacks this year then I'll still be myself. 

    "I love that team, and if part of my role is contributing leadership-wise, I'll be happy to support the new captain as best I can to help with a speedy transition."

  • Rees-Zammit relishing Mahomes advice as former rugby star eyes spot on Chiefs roster Rees-Zammit relishing Mahomes advice as former rugby star eyes spot on Chiefs roster

    Louis Rees-Zammit has likened Patrick Mahomes to an extra coach as he looks to make an impact in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Rees-Zammit shocked rugby union fans in January when he announced he was turning his back on the sport to enter the NFL's International Player Pathway programme. 

    He was signed by two-time defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City in March and is now looking to earn a place on their roster for 2024, learning the role of running back at the Chiefs' rookie minicamp after attending another training camp alongside Mahomes. 

    Rees-Zammit has made sure to pick the brains of Mahomes, who has led the Chiefs to six straight AFC Championship games and won three Super Bowl rings since being drafted in 2017.

    "It was amazing, all the quarterbacks and receivers were there, we were running routes, we were working in the gym", Rees-Zammit said of his experience at that camp in Texas.

    "It was a great two weeks, I definitely learned a lot with Pat and the other boys."

    Asked if Mahomes was acting like an extra coach, he said: "100 per cent. 

    "I'm new to the game so I'm trying to pick everyone's brains and try and pick up the sport as quick as possible because I want to be out there playing.

    "The way I can do that is picking the brains of everyone that's currently here and trying to learn the game as quickly as possible."

    Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been impressed by Rees-Zammit's attitude, saying: "He's so diligent with everything and wants to be so good at everything. I appreciate that. 

    "I like the fact he's got shorter steps initially, that's a good thing as a running back. If you're a long strider in there you've got to really work on making it through those tight adjustments you have to make. He seems to have a nice feel."
     

  • England and Saracens number eight Vunipola fined after arrest in Mallorca England and Saracens number eight Vunipola fined after arrest in Mallorca

    England international Billy Vunipola has confirmed he has been fined after an incident which saw him arrested in Mallorca on Sunday, with his club Saracens set to launch an internal investigation. 

    On Monday, widespread reports claimed Vunipola had been tasered by Spanish police in the early hours of Sunday morning, with an altercation taking place after he left a club in Palma.

    Saracens later confirmed they were aware of an incident and said they would deal with it internally.

    The number eight, who was born in Australia but has represented England 75 times, later released a statement of his own via his club, denying that any violence took place and confirming the police investigation was now closed.

    "I can confirm I was involved in an unfortunate misunderstanding when I was leaving a club in Mallorca on Sunday, which got out of hand," that statement read. 

    "Contrary to media reports, there was no violence, no fight and I did not threaten anybody at any stage, with bottles or chairs or anything else.

    "I was charged with resisting the law and, following an 'express trial', I have paid a fine of €240. The Spanish police investigation is now closed, and I am flying back to the UK today.

    "I will obviously cooperate with the Saracens internal process and unreservedly apologise for any inconvenience to all involved."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.