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Press Release: Oceania Rugby

Updated: Apr 29


Joanne Butler makes history as Papua New Guinea’s first female player to sign with the Super W Competition (Monday, 15 January, 2024).


In a ground-breaking development for women's rugby in Papua New Guinea, Joanne Butler, a 23-year-old from Korere Village in Rabaul, has been offered a scholarship to join the ACT Brumbies team for the upcoming Super W Season. This historic achievement is the result of a joint partnership between Oceania Rugby, World Rugby, Rugby Australia, and the Australian government's PacificAus Sports program.

 

Joanne has replaced the injured Samoan representative, Fa’alua Tugaga, with her selection marking a significant milestone for the sport in the region. Joanne becomes the first Papua New Guinean woman to secure a professional contract with a professional rugby team. This remarkable opportunity not only recognises Joanne's exceptional talent and dedication but also highlights the growing prominence of women's rugby in Papua New Guinea.

 

The partnership between Oceania Rugby, World Rugby, Rugby Australia, and the Australian Federal government's PacificAus Sports continues to foster local female talent whilst promoting gender equality across the Pacific. By offering scholarships and creating pathways for aspiring athletes, this collaboration strives to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities to excel in rugby.

 

As the first Papua New Guinean woman to secure a contract with a professional rugby team, Joanne has broken barriers and paved the way for aspiring female athletes.

 

Quotes attributable to the President of Oceania Rugby, Mr. Richard Sapias:

 

“The official signing of Joanne to the ACT Brumbies is a watershed moment for the sport in Papua New Guinea and opens the Super W competition to even more talented athletes from the Pacific region. The Combine Program delivered by Oceania Rugby, in partnership with World Rugby, Rugby Australia, and the Australian Government, highlights the amazing outcomes that can be achieved through great collaboration. We thank our partners for ensuring the success of this program over the past few years.

 

On behalf of the Oceania Rugby Executive, we extend a very big congratulations to Joanne and the Papua New Guinea Rugby Union on this achievement. This recognition is well deserved and a true testament to Joanne’s commitment to the sport of rugby.”

 

Quotes attributable to the Oceania Rugby General Manager, Mr. Frank Puletua:

 

“It is a proud moment for the Oceania region when our local athletes graduate into the professional arena, and Joanne’s inclusion in the ACT Brumbies squad for the 2024 Super W season is a genuine success story. I am sure that her story resonates with young aspiring players not only in Papua New Guinea but across the entire region. Oceania Rugby wishes Joanne all the very best on the upcoming Super W competition”.

 

Oceania Rugby and the Australian government's PacificAus Sports program are committed to furthering the development of women's rugby in Papua New Guinea and the wider Pacific region. This partnership is a stepping stone towards creating a more inclusive and diverse rugby landscape, where women can thrive and make their mark on the sport.


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