BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND, 8 JUNE 2017: Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 is set to inspire young female rugby players from disadvantaged communities in Asia, with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), World Rugby and ChildFund Pass It Back giving them the opportunity to visit Ireland and take part in an international rugby competition.

ChildFund Pass It Back is an innovative Sport for Development program led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women Win that delivers an integrated life skills and rugby curriculum for children and young people in disadvantaged communities across Asia.

To date, more than 3,000 children and youth from Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam have benefitted from participation in the program, with girls making up over 50 per cent of the players and coaches.

Chris Mastaglio, Director of ChildFund Pass It Back, said: “Working in partnership with the IRFU and World Rugby, we decided to hold this event in the lead-up to the Women’s Rugby Cup Final to show that women and girls’ rugby is developing across the world – from international players at the event, to grassroots players from countries like Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“In addition, ChildFund’s Pass It Back program prioritises gender equity and the inclusion of girls, so we will have lots of female players from Asia taking part who can be inspired by their peers in Belfast.”

“It’s incredibly exciting – many of our young coaches and players have not left their province before, let alone flown on a plane to a different country. This is going to be such a great opportunity for them, and we thank IRFU for helping to make this happen.”

Youth coming from Asia will play under the banner of the South-East Asian Dragons, and will compete with girls teams from across Belfast in a participation tag rugby event, the ChildFund Pass It Back Cup 2017 Belfast at Belfast Harlequins RFC on 21 August, the day before the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final.

Nora Stapleton, Women’s and Girls’ Development Manager of the IRFU, said: “We are delighted to include ChildFund Pass It Back in our Impact Beyond programmes for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, and we look forward to seeing girls from Belfast and surrounding areas welcoming girls from communities across Asia.”

ChildFund Pass It Back was established for young people who face significant poverty and have few, if any, opportunities to get involved in organised sport. For young girls, the obstacles are even greater.

“It is an absolute privilege for the IRFU to be able to support the development of new talent in these remote areas – by sharing our skills and knowledge we can get both young women and men excited about the game, and inspire a whole new generation of players in Asia.”

Media enquiries: Larissa Tuohy

Tel: +61 437 337 118