Western Force appoint the competitions first female high-performance manager
Claudia Bell has accepted the role as the competitions first female high performance manager at the Western Force.
Departing her position as the Director of the Women’s Rugby Program and Junior Development at Sydney University, Bell will move West into this crucial role of progressing women’s rugby in the state, and nationally.
The Young Achiever of the Year recipient [Her Sport Her Way Awards – 2019], has witnessed first-hand what women’s rugby needs. She sees this role as a positive change and significant advancement in the previously male-dominated code.
“This is an opportunity in the rugby market that needs to be filled for the sake of women’s rugby,” Bell asserted.
“Across all Super Rugby clubs and Rugby Australia this is the only dedicated role just for female pathways and players. The Western Force are breaking ground in this regard.”
“Working at NSW Rugby, I saw a massive gap in women’s rugby and the need for at least the state entities to start investing in a pathway manager. Unfortunately, the women’s competition continues to be a constant after thought.”
General manager of rugby, Matthew Hodgson understands Bell’s appointment is necessary to grow the women’s game at a community and professional level.
“It’s exciting to welcome Claudia and see how she can lead the progression of the Super W team, create a pathway structure in the academy space, and grow the community game at club level,” Hodgson admitted.
“It will be great to show the true pathway for a young girl wanting to play rugby at the highest level.”
Under Bell’s direction at Sydney University, 15 players were selected in the Waratahs and Brumbies squads. Eight of which are in the 2021/22 Wallaroos Rugby World Cup squad.
Bell claims the pathway program and her holistic approach have supported the success of her former club.
“With the Wallaroos being out for most of the competition, I had to get our younger girls to step up. This showcased the importance of a pathway program and further displayed the need for depth in a female program to foster the sport,” Bell claims.
“I have learnt that having a well-rounded approach in women’s rugby produces the best results from a player. It is more than the high-performance aspect, as women’s rugby it isn’t full time. There are so many other ventures that happen in female players lives. Finding out what drives players is the main factor in creating a successful program, and something I will continue to instil.”
Over her time both as director of rugby and a player Bell understands the urgency to establish clear avenues, encouraging young girls to stay within the sport.
“A successful female high-performance program only occurs if the community base is quite large. It’s important to build women’s rugby at club level starting with the juniors,” Bell stated.
Eager to take her management to the highest level, Bell indicates she will utilise her strengths in developing players as people first, setting new strengths in 2023 aspiring for continual improvement across the board.
“The Western Force Super W team is often underestimated. I believe this core group have the calibre of players, it is just about encapsulating and giving the women the necessary resources,” Bell revealed.
Stay tuned as Super W fixtures will be released soon.