Girls, Women and Rugby

Article courtesy of NOW! Jakarta, Media Partner of Indonesian Rugby

One would not normally associate girls or women with Rugby, but worldwide right now not only is Rugby growing as a Game for people to play and get involved in at various levels, but it is also quickly becoming a Game, which girls and women can enjoy as much as boys and men. This is not too dissimilar to how Rugby is creating opportunities for Indonesian girls and women who want to do away with the typical household stereotypes of Indonesian society and “have a go” on and off the Rugby field.

As a sign of the role women are now playing in Indonesian Rugby, the Union recently appointed Karina Soerjanatamihardja as the National Development Manager. Karina or Kaiy, as she is known, is also a Traditional Dance Instructor at Gema Citra Nusantara, but these days she has traded her dance steps for a chance to teach young Indonesians how to quick step on the Rugby pitch. Kaiy relishes her new role with an abundance of enthusiasm and willingness to inspire more Indonesian girls and women to join their male counterparts playing and enjoying the world’s number one growth sport.

Another Indonesian woman making great strides in developing Rugby in this country is Faiz Lovell in Bali, who along with her Australian husband, Kurt, are doing wonderful things for the Game, especially in terms of Indonesian player development. Recently, Bali Rugby also began coaching a small group of Balinese ladies how to play Rugby and it is hoped that this group will continue to play the Game. The Head of Indonesian Women’s Rugby is Tini Astuti, whose husband, Bill Ryan, has also been instrumental in the development of Indonesian Rugby in the past.

Over the past weekend, the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup concluded in France, with England winning the title over Canada in the Final. While most in the Rugby world will associate England with top level men’s Rugby given the impact of the likes of Johnny Wilkinson on the sport, very few know much about Canada and its role in the Game let alone its National Women’s Team. I can remember hearing a representative from the Rugby Canada at the 2011 International Rugby Board (IRB) Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand, discussing how the National Olympic Committee of Canada had decided to put funding behind Women’s Rugby in that country, as they saw the potential opportunity for females to excel at International Rugby.

Why are Olympic Committees spending money on Rugby and Women’s Rugby in particular you might ask?
In 2016, Rugby will make its triumphant return to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after having last been played at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. Back in those days, Rugby was played in its traditional form of the fifteen-a-side Game, however in 2016, the sport will make its return in fast and furious Sevens format with both Women and Men playing in parallel competitions. Next year, Rugby Sevens for Women and Men will also be added to the programme of the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, presenting Indonesian Rugby players, in particular women, with a wonderful opportunity to compete against their SE Asian neighbours.

I have spent the past 18 months coaching a small group of young Indonesian ladies, with the core of the group coming from Mama Sayang’s Orphanage located at Jonggol, south of Jakarta. These young ladies have taken to the Game like ducks to water and their enthusiasm and willingness to come to training each week make my job as a Coach so much easier, as I know each week they want to learn more about Rugby. One of my greatest thrills as a Coach has been watching the way in which the young ladies have developed not only their Rugby skills but also their interpersonal skills to communicate and work as a team on and off the field.

We can all dream but through dedication, hard work and endurance there is a real potential for girls and women to make their mark in society on and off the Rugby field through the wonderful opportunities being presented by Rugby in Indonesia. So if you are a young girl or a woman of any nationality wanting to play Rugby or get involved as a coach, manager, supporter or sponsor, then please take up the challenge and pull on your boots for some fantastic Rugby fun!

For more information on Indonesian Women’s Rugby and how to get involved in the Game please contact Karina Soerjanatamihardja –

Please note that this article appears in the latest edition of NOW! Jakarta:,-women-and-rugby.html