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As more and more leading women spearhead through the sports industry, Rugby Africa ( has positioned itself to continue boosting women’s involvement in the game, including leadership, by announcing on International Women’s Day, Africa’s first two recipients of the 2021 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships.

This amazing opportunity qualifies two women from Africa to join the remaining ten women from around the world, who will each receive a £10,000 scholarship for leadership development support for formal or informal education, conferences, forums, mentoring and best practice study tours. Each scholarship will be tailored to meet the professional development needs of the successful applicants.

The scholarships are open to women who:

Are currently involved in Rugby at a governance level (Union/Region Board Member) or,

Are currently involved in Rugby at a senior leadership level (reporting to CEO at third tier and above)


Have the potential to be involved


With their eyes on the prize and having carved a reputation within local rugby in their respective countries, recipients Peris Mukoko of Kenya and Abigail Mnikwa of Zimbabwe are proudly flying their flags high when it comes to leading women in sports.

Passionate about promoting young women in rugby, Mukoko comes with all the trimmings of leading this initiative. Currently a board member of the Kenya Rugby Union, a certified World Rugby licensed Educator (First Female in Kenya and Third in Africa), a Rugby Africa Unstoppable Campaign Ambassador (2020), an active Level 2 Rugby Referee (since 2008), and recently co-opted into Rugby Africa’s Referee Committee as Interim Referee Association representative, Mukoko is ready to take her knowledge and leadership skills to the next level.

‘I am thrilled to be accepted on this prestigious scholarship. This scholarship will certainly aid me in building my skills as a mentor, as well as my project management skills. Running the proposed programme, for young girls, will be challenging for me but it will enable me to grow as an administrator in the game of rugby and as a person. I hope to gain a greater understanding of grassroots rugby in Kenya while traveling as the proposed program is targeted to run outside of Nairobi,’ said Mukoko.

Just as talented and experienced, Mnikwa has worked within the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) for the past 14 years as both a physiotherapist and sports administrator. Serving on the Zimbabwe Rugby Union board, Mnikwa is also Zimbabwe women’s rugby chairperson, chairs the ZRU Covid-19 relief committee and is a World Rugby medical trainer.

As of recent, Mnikwa was appointed to the Rugby Africa women rugby advisory sub- committee for leadership, training, and conferences.

‘It is an honour to be accepted and recognised by Rugby Africa. I am truly humbled by this acknowledgment. With my key focus on continuing to raise the bar for women in rugby and amplifying the rugby medical fraternity, I am determined to use this scholarship to sharpen my skills and understanding so I can move the dial within my goal areas,’ said Mnikwa.


Wishing both the women well, Women’s Rugby Advisory Committee Chairwoman Paula Lanco said she was pleased that African women were taking on the challenge to become leaders, both on and off the field.

‘Rugby is a Sport, Not a Gender'. As such my vision is to see the Africa women in rugby compete on the world stage. The Rugby Africa 2021 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships is one sterling tool for our women to step forward and surge forward in rugby. Peris and Abigail have started on a journey that will only catapult them into the fraternity.’

Congratulating the women on their acceptance, Rugby Africa 2019 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient and Women’s Rugby Advisory Committee Leadership and Training Sub-Committee Chairwoman, Regina Lunyolo said the benefits of the scholarship would surpass the two women’s expectations.

‘The scholarship programme is a fantastic way of empowering the current and next generation of global female leaders in rugby. Women sharing the space with male counterparts will not be a differentiator, but rather as an excelling professional who shares the same passions for the game.’

Women’s Rugby Afrique Manager, Maha Zaoui shared similar sentiments, noting that the scholarships were indeed a booster.

‘A former recipient myself of the Rugby Africa 2018 Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship, I have grown in areas that I would never have imagined. It set the course for my success to date and ability to alter women’s rugby. Thanks to this scholarship, I got into the MEMOS programme, which is an Executive Masters of Sport Organisations (Management), run by the International Olympic Committee. Peris and Abigail are on a good trajectory.’

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.

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Women’s Ruby in Africa:
On the African continent, women’s rugby has seen tremendous growth. In the last decade it increased from 50 000 female players in 2012, to over 260 000 in 2018 and 350 000 in 2020.

For this tremendous growth to continue, strong leadership in women’s rugby needs to continue, the Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship is one of the tools that will enable this.    

Africa will also be well represented when South Africa participates in the next rugby World Cup women in New Zealand in 2022 and Kenya in the Olympic Games in 2021.

About Rugby Africa:
Created in 1986, Rugby Africa (, previously the African Confederation of Rugby (Confédération Africaine de Rugby – CAR), is one of the six regional associations composing World Rugby (, the international organization responsible for the governing of Rugby Union and Rugby Sevens. Rugby Africa unites all African countries which play rugby union, rugby sevens, and women’s rugby. Rugby Africa organizes the qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup, and Africa Sevens, a qualifying competition for the Olympic Games. Rugby Africa has 39 members.

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