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Rugby Ontario – (WHITBY,ON) – As Rugby Ontario’s club season is in full swing and provincial programs continue preparations for their respective National Championships, Rugby Ontario and the Ontario Blues Senior Women’s team are partnering to target the systemic issue of inequity in rugby.
Rugby Ontario is committed to ensuring equitable opportunities for all participants in all programs including athletes, coaches and match officials. However, financial inequality is a significant inequitable issue and substantial barrier facing female rugby players with aspirations of representing their province and country.
This summer, both the Ontario Blues Senior Men’s and Women’s programs will be representing Rugby Ontario at the Canadian Rugby Championship. Both of these programs are run on a pay-to-play model. The management teams for both programs work extremely hard to generate funds in an attempt to be self-sufficient, but there is one major difference between the two teams’ budgets and that is by way of World Rugby providing $18,000 of restrictive funding to the Senior Men’s program. The Senior Women’s program receives no such funding. 
“It is a priority of Rugby Ontario to champion the participation of young girls and women in rugby.  It is time to change the rugby landscape and ensure female athletes have equitable opportunities to participate in this great sport,” explained Larissa Mankis, Chief Operating Officer of Rugby Ontario.
Together over the next year, Rugby Ontario and the Ontario Blues Senior Women’s team will be setting new standards for equitable participation, creating an avenue for the athlete’s voice, and working towards minimizing the pay to play to model for generations to come. 
To kick off the campaign the change, Rugby Ontario and the Ontario Blues Senior Women’s team have launched ‘Back Your Blues for Equity in Sport’. The goal of the campaign is to raise funds to match the World Rugby Senior Men funding.
“Any sponsorship or donation goes a long way to letting our elite women know that we support the many sacrifices they make to represent our province and country,” explained Paul Connelly, High Performance Manager of Rugby Ontario. “Ontario natives represent 40 percent of the National Senior Women’s team and this talented group of individuals deserves all the support we can give them.”
Through this initiative and campaign, the Ontario Blues Senior Women’s team will inspire the next generation of players as they continue to be active members in their rugby clubs and community. 
“I cannot express how proud I am to represent Ontario at the 2018 CRCs in light of the ground-breaking progress that has been made towards gender equity by the team, in partnership with Rugby Ontario,” said Emily Barber, Ontario Blues Senior Women’s athlete. “I am honoured to play alongside such inspirational female role models that have successfully paved the road towards a brighter future for Senior Women’s Rugby in Ontario for generations to come. All of this would not have been possible without the support of Rugby Ontario as a whole, but I would like to extend a special thank you to Larissa Mankis and Paul Connelly for their advocacy. I am excited for the Ontario Sr. Women’s Team to work in partnership with Rugby Ontario to find a sustainable solution that eliminates the gender cost gap indefinitely and reduces pay-to-play financial burden for all ages and genders!”
Rugby Ontario and the Ontario Blues Senior Women’s team have already seen a huge amount of recent support through this initiative. Aedelhard has generously provided a team sponsorship and in addition, provincial clubs are stepping up with donations to support. 
If your club or group would like to show your support, please visit to provide a $200 donation to the campaign and be recognized as a proud supporter of the program.
If you are an individual who would like to donate to the Fund or would like to donate a different amount, please donate through Rugby Ontario’s National Sport Fund project at Once on the donor form page, please select the following: Organizations Name – Rugby Ontario, Project Name – Rugby Ontario Development Fund and Project Number – 79.

If you have any questions, please contact Paul Connelly at
Thank you for joining Rugby Ontario in Backing our Blues on their rugby journey and helping to give them equitable opportunities to play our great sport.