Burkina Faso, Iran and Laos are the latest rugby nations to become full member of World Rugby, the sport’s governing body.

At its virtual interim council meeting earlier in the week, the three unions were anounced as full members, while while Nepal and Panama become new associate members  of the international federation. The moves bring the World Rugby’s global membership to 128 national unions.

Related: The uphill climb to grow rugby in Nepal

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby is delighted to welcome Burkina Faso, Iran and Laos as new full members and Nepal and Panama as associate members as we continue our commitment to the sustainable global growth of the sport combined with strong governance.

“We are dedicated to increasing the breadth and diversity of the global game and the progress being made in countries such as these is a great tribute to the many talented coaches, administrators and volunteers involved in growing the sport across the emerging nations.

“Increasing the interest, participation and executive positions for women in rugby is a key objective for World Rugby so it is particularly pleasing to see the leading roles being played by women in both the Burkina Faso and Iran unions. As members of the World Rugby family we will work with these unions to provide them with continuous support and a solid framework to accelerate the growth of the sport in their countries.”

members of World Rugby

Chairman: Sir Bill Beaumont (Getty Images)

Lao Rugby Federation CEO and 2020 World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship member, Viengsamai Souksavanh commented: “Becoming a full member of World Rugby has been our dream and we are thrilled to be able to finally accomplish this during Lao Rugby’s 20 year anniversary. Our thousands of coaches and players, over half of whom are female, across Laos will be joining us in celebrating this great accomplishment and in working even harder to use the boost of full membership to expand and develop rugby even further across the country.”

Dr Hassan Mirzaaghabeik, President Iran Rugby President said: “Iran Rugby has gone through difficult conditions to reach today. So at this point, I would like to thank the people who have helped Iran move forward in the development of rugby in Asia, including Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Women’s Rugby General Manager Katie Sadleir, Qaith Abdullah Al Dhalai and all the World Rugby representatives in Asia. Iranian women are more active in rugby today than men and this is due to the efforts of Nahid Biyarjomandi.”

Tanka Lal Ghising, Nepal Rugby Association President said: “I would like to express my sincere thanks to World Rugby from Nepal, a nation containing Mount Everest for this immense recognition in World Rugby as an associate member. It has been a great achievement to develop rugby in Nepal under my leadership since 2012. We are delighted by the recognition of our continuous devotion to the sport. The dimensions of Nepal Rugby have increased with this decision and Nepal is eager to bear the new responsibility.”

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