Former Japan women’s head coach Keiko Asami was named a new member of World Rugby’s highest decision-making body on Thursday.
Asami, 41, who led the Sakura Sevens to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, was welcomed to the World Rugby Council alongside 12 other union and regional association representatives, including 10 other women.
The appointment is part of a landmark governance reform measure passed last year that expanded the number of seats on the council from 32 to 49, with all 17 new representatives to be women.
Addressing the council for the first time since the expansion, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont heralded the move as opening the door to even greater representation of women across rugby in the future.
“It is our strong desire to be a global leader in sport and we are advancing an inclusive environment, where women have equal opportunities in all areas, are integrated in strategy, plans and structures and are making highly-valued contributions to participation, performance and leadership,” Beaumont said.
“Today marks a big leap forward in that ambition.”
Another six women are expected to join the council by November’s interim meeting, with total female representation set to reach 35 percent.
Last year, Asami became the second woman to be appointed to the Japan Rugby Football Union. She represents Japan on the council along with JRFU vice president Ichiro Kono.