The Vodacom URC’s WLA is a powerful drive to encourage greater female representation in the sports workplace, which gives women around the world an opportunity to interact with and learn from some of the best in sport and tap into a global network of women in the business of sport.

The URC Women’s Leadership Academy is part of the United Rugby Championship’s focus on growing diversity and inclusion in sport under the competition’s “Take on Tomorrow” programme, which sees the URC using their platforms and influence to create a healthier, stronger, more unified next generation who can take on tomorrow.

This is a global call for entries to a programme that has been created to address the 2023 research done by Sporting Insights in partnership with the Women’s Sport Collective, which revealed that 92% of women faced barriers entering the sports industry and that 8 in 10 women would like access to a mentoring programme with women working in sport to assist in their career progression.

Women around the world between the ages of 18-26 can now apply for entrance to the academy. A final selection process will identify 50 successful candidates who will undergo a series CV-boosting workshops with leaders in the fields of Broadcasting, Commercial, Marketing, Digital Content and other sectors within the sports industry.

Online registrations for the programme are now open from 8 February through to 21 February. There are limited spaces available so get your application in now.

Prospective candidates are asked to submit a short video biography of themselves explaining exactly why they want to be a part of the programme and their goals within the sports industry to


All participants can graduate and the top “MVP” (Most Valuable Player) graduate will earn work experience at the Vodacom URC Grand Final on 22 June 2024 and an internship programme to further her career within the sports industry.

We are delighted to announce an impressive line-up of female leaders and role models who will be sharing their experiences and career journey through the WLA programme:

Ann Austin, WTA Vice President Philanthropy & Community Development
Elma Smit, Sports Presenter and content producer
Emma Dodds, Sports Broadcaster
Madelein Meppelink, former Olympic beach volleyball player
Michaella Snoeck, Head of Media Rights Formula 1
Motshidisi Mohono, Sports Anchor/Presenter
Samantha Feyzeny, Head of Marketing and Communications, NSW Office of Sport
Tiffany Jones, Social Media Manager at Six Nations Rugby
Vania King, Former professional tennis player and Consultant for the WTA

A URC Alumni programme has been established to help create a strong and vibrant global network of women working in sport and to empower them through a new culture of shared learning and skills transfer that will keep growing the momentum of the academy.

An anonymous WLA alumni had this to say in her feedback to us: “It was probably one of the best experiences and opportunities. I absolutely loved every single second, and I’ve learned things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

The inaugural alumni group have been offered incredible work opportunities through the networks they have created on the URC Women’s Leadership Academy – from creating social media content at rugby games to photography and event management at content production shoots. That is the power of the networking that is built through the URC WLA programme.

Elma Smit.

Elma Smit.

“The business of sport is evolving at such a rapid pace globally,” said URC CEO Martin Anayi.

“Within the URC we have a growing base of incredible women who are transforming the industry through their amazing work.

“These women are powerful role models who are already inspiring the next generation, and the URC Women’s Leadership Academy is the perfect vehicle to accelerate this change and give women the opportunities they deserve.

“Our message at the URC is that rugby is for everyone. The URC Women’s Leadership Academy takes this further with the message that the sports industry is for everyone.

“This programme would not be possible without the financial backing of CVC and we are grateful for their support so that we can make a difference in these young women’s lives and guide them on their way to a career in sport.”

The URC Women’s Leadership Academy is funded and supported by the CVC Foundation, which has a shared philosophy to partner with organisations that make a positive contribution to society.

Follow #URCxWLA on social channels.