22nd April, 2021 10:20 pm

Chaired by former England, Lions and Harlequins player, Ugo Monye, alongside vice-chair Giselle Mather, ex-England player and current Wasps Ladies director of rugby, it has been established to support the RFU with its goal of driving rugby union in England to reflect the diversity in society.

Group members also include:

·         Sue Anstiss MBE – CEO of Fearless Women, trustee of the Women’s Sport Trust and co-founder of the Women’s Sport Collective.

·         James Bailey – ex-England Sevens player, England Women Sevens head coach and current RPA D&I advisor and Rugby Sevens consultant.

·         Nigel Boatswain – over 20 years at Apple, including time as the executive sponsor for ‘Black at Apple’, its D&I programme. Trustee at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and external project board for Sport England D&I focused 2021 Code for Sports Governance.

·         Josh Brekenfeld – London Scottish board and executive committee member and director of global development at Aspen.

·         Gill Burns MBE – ex-England Captain, Rugby World Cup winner and Lancashire RFU President 2019-21.

·         Laura Kapo – player and chairwoman at Richmond Women.

Biographies of the group are available here.

The group will provide insights to shape plans as well as challenge the RFU on its progress in delivering on its diversity and inclusion goals.

Former England player and D&I advisory group chair, Ugo Monye, said: “The RFU has made diversity and inclusion a core priority with clear plans being worked on that should make a substantive difference to the game.

“It’s really important that we get this right so that the anyone, from anywhere, feels rugby is a game for them.  There is a wealth of experience in the advisory group and we’re all pleased to be able to contribute in driving an important agenda within the sport.”

Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO, said: “To be able to draw on the wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise in this group will be invaluable to us as we embark on plans to increase diversity in our sport and ensure it is open and inclusive to all. Consulting with others outside our organisation will provide us with different perspectives and help us to ensure that our plans are robust, meaningful, and result in tangible action.”

The RFU undertook research to inform its commitment to improving diversity and inclusion across four key areas of the game:

–          Fans, Followers and Partners

–          Game Play – Players, Coaches, Match Officials (professional and community game)

–          Employees and Board

–          Game Leadership – Volunteer leaders within Clubs, Constituent Bodies and Council

Within each of these four areas, the RFU is committed to better understanding where it is today compared to the wider population in terms of demographic, behavioural and attitudinal data and insight, establishing what it wants to change and how it will achieve it. Priorities include raising awareness, educating a wide range of stakeholders and delivering critical interventions alongside refreshed policies and guidance and ultimately monitoring progress, and adapting plans based on outcomes and updated insight. Currently the priority areas for action are ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and age.

The following outlines headline goals within each work area:


·         Grow fans and followers in under-represented groups to 40% female interest share, 6% ethnically diverse communities interest share, 37% lower socio-economic group interest share by 2025 (compared to 29%, 4% and 33% currently).

·         Increase in attendance of under-represented groups at Twickenham by 2025.


·         60k female players (40k currently) and 170k players from lower socio-economic groups (153k currently) by 2025.

·         700 coaches and 150 match officials from under-represented groups to be identified and receive mentoring by 2025.

·         Every Developing Player Programme, Centre of Excellence, Constituent Body representative team and Allianz Premier 15s club to have a female coach/ match official involved by 2025; and an increase in coaches and match officials from ethnically diverse communities in those groups.


·         Board composition to be 15% from ethnically diverse communities by 2022 and 30% women/non-binary by 2022 (28.6% currently).

– RFU recently announced the appointment of Tom Ilube CBE as the new Chair of the Board as well as Polly Williams as an Independent Non-Executive Director, both from August 2021.

·         Executive and Leadership Team to be 11% from ethnically diverse communities (4% currently) and 42% women/ non-binary by 2025 (currently 38%).

·         50% of Executive and Leadership Team and 50% of workforce to be from underrepresented groups by 2025 (currently 46% and 41% respectively).


·         Plans in this area will be delivered by the RFU D&I Implementation Working Group; a group of experienced volunteers, recruited from across England to represent the game. Members of this group were announced in autumn 2020.  Its objective is to build an inclusive and sustainable game, through skilled and diverse leadership.

·        The focus of this group is to implement recommendations approved by RFU Council. Recommendations to be implemented include:

  • A training programme to be initiated for Board and Council along with all Constituent Bodies in receipt of RFU funding to support with diversity awareness.
  • Guidance provided by the RFU to Constituent Bodies and clubs to support inclusive practices and showcase best practice. A best practice recruitment tool kit to attract a diverse range of candidates for each appointment; supporting Constituent Bodies to attract and retain a more diverse pool of people.
  • The composition of RFU committees and working groups to be considered within a D&I context to support achieving a diverse mix of members.

Source: RFU diversity and inclusion advisory group formed (englandrugby.com) April 2021

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