Rugby Victoria President Neil Hay and former Melbourne Rebel Tom English will share Rugby Victoria’s award-winning research at an international science conference this week.
They will join Monash University researchers Erik Denison and Nadia Bevan on a panel moderated by ABC Breakfast’s Paul Kennedy at the 2021 International Evidence and Implementation Summit. Scientists from universities around the world and policy makers from organisations such as the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, the National Health Service (UK), and USAID will attend the two-day online conference which begins on Tuesday.
Neil and Tom have been invited to be part of a session called “Roadmap to successful program development and implementation in sport settings.” They will discuss two Rugby Victoria research projects. The first project focused on stopping homophobic language use in sport. The innovative education program delivered to all U18 and colts teams in Victoria by the Melbourne Rebels (including Tom English) was recognised at VicSport’s 2019 Victorian Sport Awards with the inaugural Peter Norman Inclusion Award. The research project was also supported by Rugby Australia and the Australian Government.
Rugby Victoria remains involved in this important research and will trial a new program in 2021 which involves training captains and player leaders at clubs to become culture leaders. The captains and team leaders will gain skills to lead education about why homophobic and sexist language harms team performance, player retention, and club culture.
The second program involved piloting and evaluating the Quilt program, which uses rugby as a vehicle to reduce sexism and gender inequality in the community and to prevent violence against women and children.
The Quilt pilot program was strongly supported by Box Hill Rugby Club. Melbourne Rebels players helped deliver training sessions over six-weeks to adolescent male and female players. The aim was to build awareness amongst players about the harm from gender inequality and increase their confidence to intervene and help prevent violence against women in the community.
The Quilt program will continue out of the new Victorian State Rugby Centre at La Trobe University, which is slated to open in 2023.
Rugby Victoria President Neil Hay said, “Victoria is the sleeping giant of Australian Rugby and our success comes from a focus on the big picture. Rugby is about more than winning games, our sport also needs to help lead efforts to solve important social issues such as sexism, domestic violence, and homophobia. We’re looking forward to sharing our experience with addressing these problems, including talking about our success and the challenges.”
Monash University’s Erik Denison said, “Studies find sports teams and governing bodies are more successful when they are leaders in the community and have a bigger purpose and vision. We have consistently found the Victorian Rugby community understands this. I’m glad that Rugby Victoria, the Rebels, and the players and leaders at clubs throughout the state are being recognised for working with scientists to develop solutions for important social problems.”
The Evidence and Implementation Summit is a bi-annual international conference. The 2021 event is co-hosted by Centre for Evidence and Implementation and Monash University. The online program will broadcast live for two days over 30-31 March and those registered will be able to watch the recorded sessions until the end of this year.