Cate Sexton is among the 14 recipients named by World Rugby ©World Rugby

World Rugby has announced the 14 recipients of its women's executive leadership scholarships to coincide with international women's day.

The worldwide governing body claim the programme has demonstrated how the organisation has "renewed its commitment to driving inspirational leadership and fast-tracking the development of women in rugby on and off the pitch".

The number of recipients of the scholarships is up by four from the 10 who were given them last year, World Rugby said.

More than 100 applications were sent to World Rugby and all five continents are represented among those who have been successful.

They include Cate Sexton, head of women's rugby development at New Zealand Rugby and Scotland Rugby's head of girls and women's rugby Gemma Fay.

Former President of the Fiji Women’s Rugby Union Vela Naucukidi, Jane Schmitt, a director and board member of Queensland Rugby Union, and former Papua New Guinea Rugby Football Union chief executive Cybele Druma have also been selected.

Austria's Katharina Kueß, a vice-President and head of women’s rugby in her native country, Rugby Nederland Board member and Rugby Europe Women’s Rugby Committee member Annelies Acda and Ukraine Rugby Union secretary general Irina Arkhytska are the other European officials chosen for the scholarship.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated the recipients of the scholarships ©Getty Images
World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont congratulated the recipients of the scholarships ©Getty Images

Two African representatives have received a place on the programme - Regina Lunyolo, chairperson of the Uganda Women’s Rugby Advisory Committee and  Senegal Rugby Union deputy secretary general Edvige Manga - while four have been selected from the Americas.

These are María Fernanda Vázquez Villatoro, manager and board member at the Wallabies Rugby Football Club Mexico, Bermudan national team player Lauren Rothwell, women's rugby development manager of the Northeast Rugby Union Lettizia Alcaraz of Argentina and Chile's Soledad Galleguillos, development manager of women's rugby and former international player for Chile.

"We would like to congratulate the 14 successful recipients of this year’s World Rugby women's executive leadership scholarships," said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont. 

"Significant strides have been made across the women’s game since the inception of the ambitious women’s development plan and the scholarship programme has been at the heart of the success story. 

"With an unprecedented number of applications and an increase in recipients this year, positive steps are being made forward in our commitment to fast track the development of women in rugby.”