Recently, Rugby Americas North (RAN) brought together female representatives from across the RAN region who work in a variety of leadership roles within their local rugby communities writes Corrie Cross.
The goal of the conference was to provide the women hands-on and in-depth knowledge around the key elements needed to successfully manage and grow their associated rugby programs’ performance. Mercedes Foy, team manager for the Cayman Rugby Football Union women’s team, came to the forum with the goal of meeting new people and sharing knowledge. “I want to share best practices and some of the things that are working for us in Cayman to ultimately make the RAN region more successful,” said Foy.
The productive tone of the Forum was established day one by diving into team culture and high performance. Discussing the elements needed to establish and develop a high-performance team was Scott Harland, RAN’s Regional Training Manager, and presenter, Asya Bartley of Canada. They gave insights towards the organizational requirements to facilitate development of athletes and recognized the importance of constant evolution of the athletes’ support team. Harland and Bartley also gave participants ideas around ways to get more resources for their program development. This resonated with Tenisha Vincent from Trinidad & Tobago Rugby Football Union (TTRFU), chair of the TTFRU’s selection committee. She commented that the high-performance content gave her ideas around leaning on graduate students for physiotherapy and analytical support for their athletes. “(TTRFU) have a limited number of volunteers that work with our union, so being able to access that resource would be important to us”, said Vincent.
The content then rolled into team management. The group gained new perspectives from Darcy Patterson, Rugby Canada’s women team manager. Patterson helped defined a team manager and spoke to the many hats that role consists of. The program then went into scenarios where the conference members had to work together to see how they would manage certain situations, using the knowledge they learned throughout the day paired with personal experiences. The content explored technical elements as well, such as budget consideration, player welfare, and how to make a run-sheet.
The conference culminated in event planning workshops ran by Heriberto Lachica, Federación Mexicana de Rugby’s event coordinator, and Brandy Melville, USA Rugby’s general manager of commercial and events. They introduced the group to different tools and techniques to use for effective event management paired with examples on how to directly apply them. Lachica went into the processes attendees can use to plan a comprehensive event, he also helped bring forward some event elements that tend to be overlooked such as space for Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and requirements around the number of ambulances on-site during a game.
The conference went beyond just classroom learning, working as a networking opportunity to the various countries that regularly compete against but rarely interact with each other. Attendees had many opportunities to socialize from movie night, team-building games, and taking in the matches at the 2022 RugbyTown 7s tournament. An added and unexpected benefit was seeing individuals from countries represented in the forum participating in the RugbyTown 7s. Jennifer Salomon, who plays for Mexico’s women’s sevens, was part of the coaching staff for the Lions 7s (UK) and engaged with attendees on their last day. Additionally, the Barbados Men’s sevens team was competing in the tournament and was yet another example of the development of rugby in the RAN region. The group was lucky enough to run onto the pitch to take a photo under the cross bar, a symbolic final act for the momentous weekend hosted by RAN.