Paris (AFP)

Only one woman coach at the last Women's Rugby World Cup ... To accelerate the feminization of the profession, World Rugby is offering a springboard to former internationals who will join a selection as interns during the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand.

But there is still a long way to go towards professionalization.

The governing body of world rugby unveiled on Friday, one year before the kickoff of the World Cup in New Zealand, the names of the first six participants in this initiative.

The former back-wing of the XV of France, Céline Allainmat, is part of the list and will join the management of the Blue for a year.

Like the current physical trainer and rear coach of Stade Rennais, these former players all already have coaching experience.

The English Amy Turner put her skills at the service of her federation, the South African Laurian Johannes leads the Springbok women's under-twenty selection, the American Kate Daley, the Canadian Maria Gallo and the Dutch Inge Visser - who will be assigned to the staff of the Australian XV - they work in a university team.

"We know that we have a challenge to take up. At the last World Cup, in 2017 in Ireland, only one woman was at the head of a national team," Katie Sadleir, managing director of the national team, told AFP. women's sector at World Rugby.

In total, only four women, including Jo Hull, coach of Hong Kong, were present in a technical staff on all twelve teams involved in the competition, or 11%.

- 40% female coaches at the 2025 World Cup -

The objective of the international federation is to ensure that at least 40% of the management are women during the World-2025, where the number of selections could increase from twelve to sixteen.

“Creating opportunities for female coaches is a crucial and necessary step to ensure that they will benefit from relevant and meaningful experience,” says Katie Sadleir.

Currently, lack of experience is "a hindrance" when "applying for top coaching positions".

Stereotypes, structural brakes and difficulties in establishing themselves in still very masculine circles are all other factors that feed inequalities while rugby is played by 25% of women in the world.

"When we start exercising, we feel a little reluctance on the part of the boys. At first glance, it's always: + Oh dear ... Are you sure she can really coach us? + Afterwards , when they realize that we know what we are talking about, it goes, "says Céline Allainmat, 38, recalling her beginnings.

- Double life -

The ex-international does not work full time in his club and juggles another activity.

Like the national team, made up of amateur or semi-professional players, women's rugby coaches in France lead a double life.

When she is not on the grounds of the Stade Français, coach Anaïs Lagougine works "40 hours a week" as an occupational therapist.

"I finish work at 6:00 p.m., I go to the stadium where I arrive at 6:30 p.m. and leave at 10:00 p.m. It's like that from Monday to Thursday. Friday is a break and during the weekends, it varies according to the trips. I have very little free time, "explains the ex-international, 38, of whom only a third of the income comes from the Parisian club.

Coach of the back lines and responsible for the two senior teams, she works in a staff mainly composed of men.

"I never felt belittled and never suffered an inappropriate remark. On the contrary, the club often valued me", continues Anaïs Lagougine.

"The feminization of coaches is a good thing, but we must provide the means to train," she underlines.

When will a woman head a professional men's team (Clermont Foot, in the 2nd French division) like the French Corinne Deacon in football?

"I think that will happen. Women have been investing in this field for a few years, passing diplomas. We must give them time to store up victories and opportunities will arise," said Anaïs Lagougine.

© 2020 AFP