Using gender-based terms like “playing like a girl” is now a violation of one major Australian state’s rugby code.

The Victorian Rugby Union is piloting a new programme, ‘Quilt’, designed to empower women on and off the pitch by stamping out gender-based discrimination and promoting gender equality.

The organisation hopes that the programme will not only lead to greater female involvement in rugby, but help to reduce gender discrimination and violence against women outside of the sport.

A new code of conduct was penned which disciplines players against any form of family violence while also highlighting the importance of rugby players as role models in the community.

This new code of conduct will inform all levels of sporting laws, coaching manuals and player conduct.

Quilt is spearheaded by the World Rugby, the sport’s international representative body headquartered in Dublin.

If successful in Victoria, World Rugby intends to roll out the programme globally, including in Ireland.

Speaking ahead of his closing address at the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights at Dublin’s Convention Centre, Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby, said:

“As an inclusive sport for all, rugby has a great role to play in promoting and fostering programmes that tackle gender-based discrimination in society, and World Rugby is proud to support the Victoria Rugby Union’s Quilt programme.

“With the world’s top women rugby players competing at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland later this summer, this year is a celebration of women in sport and this important project will promote rugby players as community role models, living the sport’s values to empower and support women in the community.

“If the Quilt programme proves successful in Victoria, we will look at ways to begin its rollout on an international scale.”

According to Sally Nicholes, of Nicholes Family Lawyers and Deputy Chair of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, “Sport has always played an integral role in bringing together communities and within a sporting context, rugby union has demonstrated a dedication to nurturing these values and growing the sport at both grass-roots and professional level, into new communities and cultures. The dramatic growth of women’s rugby over the past decade is a perfect example of this.

“In that same spirit, Quilt has the potential to become one of the great achievements to emerge from the WCFLCR in promoting greater gender equality, preventing domestic violence and delivering systemic change through our partnerships with the Victorian Rugby Union, World Rugby and our stakeholders in Australia, the South-East and further afield.

“In the short term, we are working toward extending the programme across all rugby union playing countries. Longer term, we hope to sign up all major sports organisations, including the international governing bodies for cricket, swimming and rowing ahead of the next World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights scheduled for Singapore in 2020.”

First launched in Sydney in 1993, the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights meets every four years in a variety of different host countries committed to the values of human rights, particularly those of children.

The 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, hosted in partnership with The School of Law at University College Cork (UCC) concludes on Wednesday, 7 June.