​Making Rugby Everyone’s Game conference 2021 review

​Making Rugby Everyone’s Game conference 2021 review

On Sunday 6 June, Scottish Rugby hosted their inaugural Making Rugby Everyone’s Game Conference, a dedicated event to support and encourage clubs as they continue to be open, welcoming and inclusive spaces within their communities.

Hosted via Zoom, the conference included informative workshops delivered by clubs and key partners, along with speakers from the inclusion and diversity sector offering advice and guidance.

Our guest speakers including Scottish Rugby Board member, Lesley Thomson QC, Keith Macleod, President of Harris Rugby and Gillian Jones-Williams from Emerge UK were joined by over 100 delegates from across the country.

We want to provide all clubs in Scotland with access to the information and guidance from the conference, and we now invite you to register for access to recordings of our morning speakers and workshops.

Click HERE to register for access to the conference recordings.

You can also download a copy of our Making Rugby Everyone’s Game club handbook, HERE.

Below you’ll also find a summary of the day.

Conference Summary

The conference was opened by Scottish Rugby Board member, Lesley Thomson QC. Appointed in 2013, Lesley was the first woman to sit on the Board, and currently Chairs Scottish Rugby’s Safeguarding, Wellbeing, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

In her opening remarks, Lesley spoke of the importance the Scottish Rugby Board attaches to inclusion and diversity, saying: ”Within Scottish Rugby we talk regularly about having purpose, feeling valued and being connected, essentially that is inclusion. Inclusion and diversity is a standing item on the Scottish Rugby Board agendas.

“People can feel, sometimes, that they are treading on eggshells when it comes to inclusion and diversity and perhaps would prefer to say nothing than inadvertently cause offence. However, we cannot be active bystanders in the landscape we currently operate in and we really want people to feel confident in opening up and speaking out if they feel something is not inclusive.”

Lesley was followed by guest speaker Keith Macleod, President of Harris Rugby and Gillian Jones-Williams from Emerge UK.

Keith, who is an openly gay man, shared his experiences as a ‘late comer’ to the sport and his journey from playing rugby with to now becoming the President at Harris Rugby.

“Rugby on a wider scale is definitely seen as an inclusive sport at it’s heart, but there is work to be done to carry that message to say that clubs are welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces. And there are so many opportunities to do this.”, said Keith.

“It’s important that leaders within clubs become allies not only to the LGBTQ+ community, but to newcomers who are brand new to the sport. With that, we also need to help educate and support in continuing to create an inclusive culture which already exists in most rugby clubs, but perhaps needs to be strengthened.”

The conference concluded with an moving keynote presentation and Q&A session with Nigel Owens MBE.





“Never underestimate the impact you can have on creating an inclusive environment”
Nigel Owens MBE

  • Tackling homophobic, biphobic & transphobic behaviour and building an LGBTQ-inclusive club

    Chris Gibbons, Director of Inside Inclusion, introduced some key issues around making our clubs LGBTQ+ friendly, understanding the impact of certain behaviours and language, and delivered advice around the building blocks to a truly inclusive sporting environment.

    Robert Forrester from Dunfermline RFC followed on sharing his experiences about the positive environment at Dunfermline RFC, and how their inclusive approach continues to see the club grow in all areas of the game.

  • Supporting the ageing populations through rugby

    How does your club involve older members of the rugby community?

    Memories groups and walking rugby are becoming very popular approaches to supporting not only those of advancing years, but also in tackling loneliness and isolation within a community.

    Michael White (Rugby Memories Scotland) and Murray Watson (Hawick RFC) discussed the development of rugby memories groups and how they have seen their programmes evolve.

    Ken Richardson from Linlithgow RFC and Graham Stables from Moray RFC, also shared their Walking Rugby stories and discussed the benefits to their members.

  • Inclusion starts with “I” – trans inclusion

    Claire Birkenshaw, was the first principal of a UK school to transition. Now a Lecturer in Childhood and Education, she discussed her gender journey and the impact of the comments people said to her along the way.

    Chris Gibbons, Director of Inside Inclusion joined the workshop to discuss terminology and breaking barriers.

    This workshop was concluded by Scottish Rugby’s Medical Services Manager, Richard Wood, who discussed the Transgender Player Application and the steps the applicants should take.

  • Tackling barrier to rugby and focusing on ability, not disability

    Heather Lowden, Education and Development Manager at Scottish Disability Sport, delivered a workshop discussing the challenges and barriers to those with a disability and how as clubs we can look for ways to be more inclusive.

    We also heard from Stephen Main (Coach) and Andy Scotland (Player) from one of the Unified Rugby Clans. They discussed the benefits of the unified game and showcase how they work with clubs to establish Clans.

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