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Top 10 #5: The Power of WRCRA

  • 14 Dec 2018

Photos: KJ Paynter Photography / Facebook / Instagram

One of the most significant events of the year occurred just last weekend, as the Women’s Rugby Coaches & Referees Association (WRCRA) held its very first Women in Rugby Conference. While inclement weather forced some early departures from Charlotte, N.C., the event drew approximately 120 women and men from around the country, all with an invested interest in advancing our great sport.

WATCH: Selection of WRCRA conference presentations

Heffernan @ 10 o’clock

Kerri Heffernan is at the heart of it all. In 2017, she brought the Women’s Rugby Forum to life, and the idea of a professional organization (now WRCRA) was one of the many action items that came out of that Providence, R.I., assembly. With the backing of the U.S. Women’s Rugby Foundation (USWRF) — in particular president Danita Knox, who was heavily involved in the conference’s realization — WRCRA formed in January 2018 and spent the year building its membership.

RELATED: More Top 10 Moments of 2018-19 Season Thus Far

Midway through 2018, momentum started building for the first of what will be an annual conference. Heffernan shaped a curriculum, seeking rugby and sports experts from around the globe to delve into the challenges and opportunities for women’s rugby. Knox and the USWRF board members went after sponsors — and they responded — and the team was grateful to land the beautiful facilities of Queens University of Charlotte, leaning on Director of Rugby Katie Wurst as host. The addition to Laura Gill adrenalized the movement, as she brought fantastic visibility and outreach and communication to a new level.

Flores & Orsini

As the list of speakers and agenda solidified and circulated (see the entire lineup), attendees committed to the trip to North Carolina. Check out the list below and note the amount of power and influence that funneled into one room.

Heffernan broke down the three days (read more), and host/speaker Wurst also added some takeaways, including mention of WRCRA chapters. One attendee, though, aptly summarized the empowerment of such an event. Ciara Lehane was the youngest panelist during the Saturday dinner presentation, Nevertheless, She Persisted: Five Stories of Life and Rugby. After listening to K.O. Onufry (70s), Vicki Hudson (80s), Kathy Flores (90s) and Phaidra Knight (00s), Lehane took the mic in representation of the 2010s generation.

“After dinner on Saturday, after all of the stories of women’s rugby through the decades were told, the [Old Girls] in the ballroom sang, ‘I Want to Go Home,’ by Johnny Cash, and for me, the weight of the history in the room came sharply into focus,” Lehane reflected. “I don’t think many of the younger attendees knew that song, I didn’t. It was like, all these trailblazers and traditions we — the younger generation — never learned about were the reason we were all together in that moment. It made me want to learn the song and carry on the tradition. It was beautiful.”

Today, WRCRA boasts 122 members and is looking to build even more collective power. Learn more:


Kjrsten Abel Ruch — Kansas Women’s Rugby Club, Coach

Leanne Acton — Penn Mutual

Haley Aguiar — Potomac Society of Rugby Football Referees

Rosalind Anderson — Rugby Referee Society of NY

Bev Armstrong — USWRF Board (Beantown, Massachusetts Youth)

Johnathan Atkeison — Univ North Carolina, Coach

Katherine Aversano — Fort Hunt Girls & NOVA, Coach

Michel’Le Bennett — Southeast Rugby Referee Society

Christine Black — Kings College, Coach

Steven Bowden — Southern Pines, Coach

Katy Broerman — Carolinas Geographical Union

Jessica Burda — Madison United, Coach

Jamie Burke — Glendale, Coach

Emilie Bydwell — USA Rugby, GM, Coach

Nancy Campbell — At-Large, Coach

Becky Carlson — Quinnipiac University, Coach

Trevor Caterson — World Rugby Shop

Araba Chintoh — Rugby Canada

Rosalind Chou — Life University, Coach

Kristen Cogswell — Carolinas Geographical Union

Amanda Cox — Southeast Rugby Referee Society

Martha Daines — USA Rugby Girls HS All-Americans, Coach

Kate Daley — Penn State, Coach

Margy Dessypris Thomas — USA Rugby (NCC), Referees Society of Virginia

Kathryn Dowty — Dartmouth College, Coach

Matt Drewello — Rugby South Carolina, Coach

Donna Duffy — UNC Greensboro

Lisa Durham — USWRF Board (Atlanta Harlequins), Taco Mac

Katie Dyke — USA Rugby Training & Education

Marjorie Enya — Brazil Rugby

Annemarie Farrell — IIthaca College, Coach

KJ Feury — Rugby New Jersey

Kathy Flores — Brown University, Coach

Karen Fong Donoghue — The Rugger’s Edge

Kenny Forehand — USA Rugby Training & Education

Jamie Frech — University of Michigan, Coach

Koma Gandy Fischbein — All Navy Rugby, Coach

Kerry Gholson — Rugby South Carolina, Coach

Fran Gilbert — FSU

Laura Gill — Rugby Americas North

Jen Gray — World Rugby

Mark Griffin — USA Rugby

Bethany Guimond — USA Rugby

Tania Hahn — ARPTC

Hannah Harper — Girls Rugby, Coach

Carly Harrington — WPL (administrator), Atlanta

Kirstin Hartos-Maurer — UC San Diego, Coach

Kerrissa Heffernan — USWRF & WRCRA Board (USA Eagles, FSU, Beantown, Brown)

Jenn Heinrich — Girls Rugby

Katherine Henderson — Curling Canada, Rugby Canada

Emily Hsieh — Potomac Society of Rugby Football Referees

Vicki Hudson — NorCal RFU, Coach

Carol Isherwood — World Rugby

Patty Jervey — Atlanta Harlequins

Jami Jordan — Former Player

Marlena Kauer — Potomac Society of Rugby Football Referees

Nancy Kechner — University of Virginia, Coach

Erin Kennedy — Girls Rugby

Bryanna Kerbuski — Coach

Phaidra Knight — USA Rugby BOD, USA Eagles

Danita Knox — USWRF & WRCRA Board (Atlanta Harlequins)

Pam Kosanke — USA Rugby BOD, USA Eagles, 24K Brands

Julie Lau — USA Rugby BOD

Sharon Lau — Atlanta Harlequins, Coach

Nicole LaVoi — Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport

Derika Legg — San Diego Surfers, Coach

Ciara Lehane — Jacksonville, Coach

Jeff Leinen — Penn Mutual

Matt Leonard — Fairfield Yankees, Connecticut Grey, White Plains

Stephen Lopez — Pleasanton Cavaliers, Rugby NorCal, Coach

Jenny Lui — Glendale, USA Rugby, coach/player/ref

Michael Luke — World Rugby

Stacey Markovic — Boston Women, Coach

Rebecca Martin — ATL Youth Harlequins, Bucks, UGA, SIRC, coach

MaryBeth Mathews — Bowdoin College, Coach

Alex McCulloch — Panther City Rugby & Fort Worth Independent School District

Krista McFarren — USA Eagles, MD Stingers, NO Halfmoons, Washington Furies

Vanesha McGee — USA Eagles, APRTC

Ed McKenna — Montana State, Coach

Laura Miller — Alderson Broaddus University, Coach

Mikayla Miller — Queens University of Charlotte

Mary Money — USWRF Board (Tufts, Beantown, Atl Harlequins, USA Eagles)

David Morris — Carolinas Geographical Union

Jeff Murphy — TC Williams HS, Coach

Derek Nellmapius — Rhinos Rugby Academy, Coach

K. O. Onufry — Middlebury College, Coach

Candi Orsini — Bay Area Pelican Men, Coach

Kent Oszmanski — Rhino Rugby

Robert Owens — Eno River

Robin Pace — Florida State University

Kim Perritt — Rugby South Carolina, Coach

Theresa Pitts-Singer — Utah State University, Coach

Ashley Potvin-Fulford — University of New England, Coach

Emily Record — Queens University of Charlotte, Coach

Chelsea Renoe — Coastal Carolina University, Coach

Lisa Rosen — USA Rugby Training & Education, Air Force Women’s 7s, Colorado Sports Ranch, ARPTC

Suzanne Rosen — USWRF Board (FSU)

Katie Sadleir — World Rugby

Kelly Sager — Queens University of Charlotte, Coach

Sarah Sall — Women in Rugby

Milla Sanes — Women’s Premier League, President

Cheryl Saunders — Southeast Rugby Referee Society

Laura Sayabouth — Raleigh Venom

Jennifer Sinkler — USA Eagles

Jennifer Stratton — Harrisburg, Eastern Penn Rugby Union

Mary Swanstrom — Chicago Lions, Coach

Christina Swift — American Rugby Pro Training Center

Bridget Tannian — New England Rugby Referees Society

Victor Thomas — Ruggers Rugby Supply

Carol Trammell — World Rugby Shop

Andreea Trufasu — Rhinos Rugby Academy

Monica VanBuskirk — Glendale

Kitt Wagner Ruiz — USA Rugby, ATL Harlequins, Life University, The Rugger’s Edge

Lindsay White — Atlanta Youth Rugby, Coach

Morgan Whitehead — USA Eagles

Mo Williams — Queens University of Charlotte, Coach

Katie Wurst — Queens University of Charlotte, Coach

Ross Young — USA Rugby

Wendy Young — YSC Rugby and Texas Rugby Union

* five attendees were either no-shows or canceled for weather

WRCRA #201819Top10

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