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Dombrowski Awarded World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship

  • 09 Mar 2022
USA Rugby Jess Dombrowski

USA RUGBYWorld Rugby today announced USA Rugby Membership & Affinity Senior Manager Jess Dombrowski as one of 12 inspirational women to be awarded Executive Leadership Scholarships for 2022. Presented and celebrates on International Women’s Day, the international federation reaffirms its commitment to developing talented, female leaders throughout the game.

The scholarships can be used to enhance professional development of the successful applicants through a variety of opportunities such as formal or informal education, conferences, workshops, mentoring, secondments, or best practice study tours.

“I fell head over heels in love with rugby the first time I picked up a ball, and ever since then it has become a massive part of my identity,” said Dombrowski. “Being an Executive Leader Scholarship recipient, I am thrilled about the opportunity to develop and foster women’s leadership within this game. The passion I have for this sport and community is unparalleled, I look forward to taking in this experience and catalyzing the growth of North American rugby.”

Dombrowski is the third American recipient of the scholarship, following USA Eagle Alum Jillion Potter in 2018 and Girls Rugby Inc. co-founder, Jenn Heinrich in 2020.

USA Rugby CEO, Ross Young congratulated Dombrowski, “The Executive Leadership Scholarship is a remarkable achievement, we are incredibly proud of Jess for this well-earned recognition. Alongside World Rugby, we as a union strive to advance women’s leadership throughout the organization and are delighted to support Jess into the next phases of her professional career. Her spirit and commitment to the rugby community is unwavering and we’re happy to celebrate that today.”

World Rugby today announced that this year’s International Women’s Day theme is BreakTheBias and calls for equality through a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive and encourages the celebration of women’s achievements. A core component of World Rugby’s 2017-25 strategic plan to accelerate the global development of women in rugby is driving global diversity, particularly in leadership pipelines.

The Executive Leadership Scholarship program identifies and supports the current and next generation of female leaders in world rugby, supporting inspirational role models to fulfil their potential and create further parity across the game.

Dombrowski added, “Having been granted this privilege, I am excited for the opportunity to not only grow and develop as a professional, but to also pay the experience forward and inspire others within women’s athletics. Above all, I aspire to push myself outside my comfort zone and attack new challenges head on, all while helping grow the best game in the world.”

With two representatives from six regions around the world, 12 women have been awarded scholarships.

2022 World Rugby Executive Scholarship Recipients

  • Alena Abbot (Germany) – Youth Officer at Deutscher Rugby Verband
  • Zi-Yu Chen (Taiwan) – Former national team player and coach of The Chinese Taipei Rugby Football Union women’s team
  • Rowena Davenport (New Zealand) – Chairperson of Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU)
  • Jessica Dombrowski (USA) – USA Rugby Membership and Affinity Senior Manager
  • Kamana Giri (Nepal) – Deputy Chairperson/Women’s Development Committee Media Manager for Nepal Rugby Association
  • Gorata Kgathi (Botswana) – Former national team player, rugby coach, Chairperson of the Women’s Committee
  • Natasha Olsen (Brazil) – Referee with the Confederação Brasileira de Rugby (CBRU), member of the CBRU Administrative Council and Second Vice-President of the SAR Governing Board
  • Bárbara Pichot (Argentina) – Sudamérica Rugby (SAR) Women’s Rugby Coordinator
  • Mere Rakoroi (Fiji) – Board Member, Fiji Rugby Union
  • Olga Surkova (Ukraine) – Former national team player, international referee with Rugby Europe
  • Kanisha Vincent (Trinidad and Tobago) – Chairperson, Selection Committee
  • Adjoa Isabelle Yeboua (Ivory Coast) – Chairperson of the Women’s Committee


World Rugby Women’s Advisory Committee Chair Serge Simon said: “It is a great honor to be able to announce the next 12 recipients of World Rugby’s Executive Leadership Scholarships. This program has a proven track record of supporting and accelerating women into leadership positions in our sport, and we have been inspired by the great things those past scholars have gone on to achieve.

Previous scholarship recipients include the likes of Nahid Biyarjomandi, a World Rugby Unstoppable who founded Iran’s first women’s rugby club. In 2016, she was appointed by the Iran Rugby Federation as head of its development committee, overseeing both women’s and men’s participation, and currently sits on the union’s board.

Biyarjomandi was awarded a World Rugby Executive Leadership Scholarship in 2021 and is dedicated to using her scholarship to work with others in developing leadership skills in sport, as well as the development of personality skills that are necessary to those in leadership positions.

Simon concluded, “We are fully committed to ensuring that women are better represented within leadership positions across the game, where they are involved in strategy and decision making, and are celebrated for being the fantastic role models that they are for our future generations.”

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