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International Women’s Day: Celebrating women working in men’s rugby

Verity Williams (left), Caroline Morgan (centre), and Chloe Montgomery (right). Credit: Chris Fairweather, Huw Evans Agency

In many of the men’s teams competing in the Guinness Six Nations and beyond, women work in important roles which support the performance and running of the team.

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On International Women’s Day, we’re shining a light on some of the women working behind the scenes as they share their experiences and offer advice to young women who aspire to work in sport.

The first of two Q&A pieces focuses on three women who work for the Welsh Rugby Union.

Caroline Morgan, P/A to the Men’s National Squad and Management

How long have you been doing your current job? 21 years – I’ve spent half my working life doing this and it’s gone so quickly. I started on October 17, 2002 – I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m lucky I have the support of my family and friends. I couldn’t do this job without them because it does take over your life.

What led you to that career? I’ve always loved rugby. This was always one of my dream jobs. I dreamed of either doing this or working for the Stereophonics but I never thought I’d do either. Being a rugby fan and growing up as a female at a time when there were no women’s rugby players, this role for me is the closest I could ever have got get to being a part of this organisation.

How has your experience of working in a largely male-dominated environment been? I have never thought of it as me being the only woman – I have always been treated with the same respect as everyone else and wouldn’t like to be treated any differently. When I joined I was the only female. Now, it’s very different. It’s been great to see that change.

What advice would you offer to young women aspiring to work in rugby/sport? Follow your dream – believe in yourself.

How do you deal with sometimes being the only woman in the room, what characteristics are key in those situations? Ensuring that the men are comfortable with me being there and treat me no differently.

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What is your favourite part of your job? Being part of success.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job? Ensuring everything is in order off the field to enable the players to do their job on the field.

What’s your favourite memory so far from the job? Winning the Grand Slams.

What is something that you think people may not know about what your role involves? Some people think that I only work for the head coach when my role is personal assistant to the whole squad of over 50 people.

Chloe Montgomery, Soft Tissue Therapist

How long have you been doing your current job? For the past 10 months.

What led you to that career? My passion for rugby developed at an early age, thanks to my family’s involvement in the sport. During my undergraduate studies, I became fascinated with sports injuries and conducted my dissertation research with Rosslyn Park Rugby Club. This experience motivated me to pursue an MSc in Sports Rehabilitation. I completed my clinical hours with Jersey Reds, and they offered me a position. Since then, I’ve dedicated nearly a decade to working in the rugby industry.

How has your experience of working in a largely male-dominated environment been? Initially, working in a predominantly male environment was intimidating. However, I’ve found that building confidence in my abilities and networking have been crucial. Kindness and professionalism go a long way in establishing relationships and earning respect.

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What advice would you offer to young women aspiring to work in rugby/sport? I would advise young women aspiring to work in rugby or sports to focus on networking and kindness. Building professional relationships and connections can open doors to opportunities. Additionally, having confidence in your abilities and maintaining a positive attitude are essential for success in any field.

How do you deal with sometimes being the only woman in the room, what characteristics are key in those situations? Confidence in my abilities is key when being the only woman in the room, but I genuinely think that would be the case in any working environment sometimes even more so in a room filled with strong women. However, it’s also important to maintain a sense of humour and not take everything too seriously. Being able to laugh at oneself and navigate through different situations with grace and professionalism is crucial.

What is your favourite part of your job? Working with a fantastic group of people and celebrating victories, both big and small, with the team. As cliched as it sounds the WRU national team staff are one big family and I have met friends for life in the short period I have been working with them.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of my job is witnessing the team’s camaraderie and hard work, especially during challenging moments. Being part of a collective effort and contributing to something special is incredibly fulfilling.

What’s your favourite memory so far from the job? The exhilarating experience of beating Fiji in our World Cup opening game. It was a testament to our team’s dedication and hard work.

What is something that you think people may not know about what your role involves? One aspect of my role that people may not fully understand is the level of dedication and commitment required to support athletes both on and off the field.

It involves more than just treating injuries; it’s about providing emotional support, collaborating with other healthcare professionals, and ensuring the holistic well-being of the athletes. Additionally, the role demands adaptability and strong communication skills to address the dynamic needs of elite-level sport. And most importantly a good sense of humour, something that a couple of the team are still working on….

Verity Williams, Senior Men’s Team Communications Manager

How long have you been doing your current job? Since January 2022

What led you to that career? I completed a postgraduate diploma in public and media relations after my degree. It was a practical course and you did work placements as part of it. One of the placements led to a permanent job with a communications agency in London. I’d always wanted to work in sport and after a few years I saw a job with the RFU which I interviewed for and was offered the role. I love rugby and being Welsh had always wanted to work for Wales so when this job came up I had to go for it.

How has your experience of working in a largely male-dominated environment been? I don’t think of it as being male-dominated so much, we’re all part of the same team and working towards the same goals. The people really do make it a great place to work.

What advice would you offer to young women aspiring to work in rugby/sport? Believe in yourself, get as much experience as possible and if you see an opportunity go for it.

How do you deal with sometimes being the only woman in the room, what characteristics are key in those situations? I think in any professional environment it’s important to work hard, be willing to learn, have confidence in yourself and a positive attitude.

What is your favourite part of your job? The people.

What’s your favourite memory so far from the job? The squad beating the Springboks in South Africa for the first time ever in Bloemfontein in July 2022 was special as was Rugby World Cup 2023 – particularly the games against Fiji and Australia.

What is something that you think people may not know about what your role involves? It requires a lot of planning and flexibility to get everything done – press conferences, 121 media interviews, content for our own channels and marketing activity etc – while not impacting on the rugby side of things which is the main purpose. It can feel like herding cats at times but it’s very satisfying when all the activity’s finished.

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