World Rugby Tackles Gender Gap -- Federation Focus

Also: First-ever Olympic qualifying event for skateboarding; Moscow to host Archery World Cup Final

(ATR) World Rugby launches a global campaign to grow the women’s game.

The sport’s governing body on Tuesday unveiled a new ‘Women in Rugby’ brand identity as part of the ‘Try and Stop Us’ campaign developed with the support of national unions and regions.

The goal is to create increased participation and engagement among fans, audiences, players and investors. The growth of women’s rugby is already one of the sport’s great success stories, according to the federation. Participation levels are at an all-time high with 2.7 million players globally. There has been a 28 percent increase in registered players since 2017, with women now making up more than a quarter of the global playing population.

The ‘Try and Stop Us’ campaign features 15 women and girls involved in rugby at all levels of the game, showing how they "challenged barriers to participation and demonstrated how rugby has empowered them to get where they are today, both on and off the pitch".

Governance is another area where women are making inroads. The World Rugby Council convenes today with a record 17 female members, the result of reforms introduced in 2017 as part of a long-term plan to get women more involved in the sport.

"We firmly believe that the development of women in rugby is the single greatest opportunity for our sport to grow in the next decade," World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

"From the highest levels of the sport’s governance to grassroots participation, we are wholly committed to driving gender-balance and ensuring that women have equal opportunities both on and off the field."

The effort could also help grow the global audience for the sport. Women already make up more than 40 percent of rugby’s 400 million fanbase, according to the federation.

More information on the #TryAndStopUs campaign can be found at the new website, also launched on Tuesday.

Olympic Qualifying Debut for Skateboarding

The first ever Olympic qualifying event for skateboarding is taking place this week in London.

The kickoff event of the World Skate/Street League Skateboarding (SLS) season began on Tuesday at the BAYSIXTY6 skatepark.

The Global Open qualifier features 164 athletes from 45 national teams. Only 12 women and 10 men will move on to the next phases of the competition later in the week at the Copper Box Arena.

But those athletes will get the chance to battle with the best. They will compete against the top skaters of both genders from the 2018 World Skate SLS World Championship.

The men’s semifinals and finals and the women’s finals will be carried live on World Skate TV on May 26.

Moscow to Host Archery World Cup Final

For the first time since the 1980 Olympic Games, Russia will be hosting a major archery event.

World Archery announced this week that the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final will be staged in Red Square in the center of Moscow on September 6-7.

"The Hyundai Archery World Cup Final is an event purpose-built for iconic venues. Not only is Red Square a stunning location, but it is the perfect place for Russia’s successful archers to compete on the world circuit on home soil for the first time in a long time," World Archery president Ugur Erdener said in a statement.

Other recent venues for the season-ending event have included the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Stadio dei Marmi in Rome, and the Zocalo central square in Mexico City.

Medellin, Colombia and Shanghai, China hosted the first two of the four stages of archery’s international circuit for 2019. The third stage is in progress this week in Antalya, Turkey. The fourth will take place in Berlin from July 1-7.

Written by Gerard Farek

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