Press Release | 09 May 2024

Rugby legends visit The University of Edinburgh as part of Vodafone and The Good, The Scaz & The Rugby’s EmpowHER project

EmpowHER provides three university women's teams, Durham University, Cardiff University and The University of Edinburgh, with: a bursary funded by Vodafone; exclusive access to Vodafone's landmark PLAYER.Connect app; and monthly mentoring sessions for selected players.

  • Emily Scarratt MBE, Helen Nelson and Rachel Malcolm visited The University of Edinburgh to host an exclusive rugby training session as part of the EmpowHER project, delivered by Vodafone and The Good, The Scaz & The Rugby.
  • Launched in 2023, the EmpowHER project is designed to bridge the gap between university rugby and the elite women’s game, with recent mentees Nicole Flynn and Cieron Bell selected for the Scottish national team during the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Rugby legend Emily Scarratt MBE visited The University of Edinburgh to host an exclusive rugby training session with the Ladies Rugby team following their selection for the EmpowHER project, delivered by Vodafone in partnership with The Good, The Scaz & The Rugby (GS&R). Emily, who hosts the GS&R podcast, was joined by current internationals Helen Nelson and Rachel Malcolm to put the university team through its paces.

Aiming to bridge the gap between university rugby pathways and the elite women’s game, the EmpowHER project works with selected university clubs to support their growth, on and off the pitch.

This support includes: a bursary, funded by Vodafone; mentoring from elite women’s players, such as Emily Scarratt, Natasha ‘Mo’ Hunt, Katy Daley-Mclean MBE and Ffion Lewis; as well as exclusive access to Vodafone’s landmark PLAYER.Connect app. The University of Edinburgh is one of three universities currently involved in the project, alongside Cardiff University and Durham University.

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Wales Women saw a new record set for their final game of the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations with 10,592 in attendance at Principality Stadium.

Having launched in November 2023, the EmpowHER project has already seen success, most recently with The University of Edinburgh mentees Nicole Flynn and her teammate Cieron Bell being selected as part of the Scotland national women’s team during the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Emily Scarratt MBE, Host of GS&R, said: “The support available through the EmpowHER project is invaluable for university players, as it provides such a strong foundation for those wanting to pursue a career in the elite game.

“Women’s rugby has come on leaps and bounds since I started playing, but it still has a long way to go. That’s why it’s been amazing to work on the EmpowHER project in partnership with Vodafone, who are key players in helping drive the women’s game to where it deserves to be.”

Vodafone PLAYER.Connect

Vodafone PLAYER.Connect is a revolutionary mobile-first platform that gathers data on: players’ performance and recovery; menstrual cycle phases; and mental and physical wellbeing. This allows female athletes at all levels to better understand the impact of their menstrual cycles on their bodies, and more accurately track and manage their symptoms.

Through access to Vodafone PLAYER.Connect, the EmpowHER beneficiaries and their coaching staff have a more in-depth understanding of players’ mental and physical health. This not only helps them to maximise their performance while prioritising their recovery and wellbeing, but also allows them to tailor training programmes to each player’s specific needs.

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For the first time outside of a research environment, the mobile-first Vodafone PLAYER.Connect platform allows concussion data to be viewed side-by-side with menstrual cycle data.

Nicole Flynn, The University of Edinburgh and Scotland Women, said: “Being selected for the Scotland Women’s team was a milestone moment for me and one I’ll remember for a long time. The support I received through the EmpowHER project was a huge reason I was able to make the leap into the national team. Being able to access tools like Vodafone’s PLAYER.Connect at this level have been influential to understanding my performance and supporting my progression into professional rugby.”


The 1:1 mentoring programme provides university players, identified as having the potential to succeed at elite level, with a unique insight into the professional game. Paired with elite players, mentees benefit from the expertise and guidance of their mentor, who provide support on all aspects of their rugby career both on and off the pitch.


As well as directly benefiting individual players, the EmpowHER project supports and enhances the wider teams at all three universities. In addition to the roll out of specific development and skills sessions, the bursary, funded by Vodafone, has allowed The University of Edinburgh Ladies Rugby team to purchase much-needed game-day technology. This includes video analysis tools, which have helped the team to better analyse their match day performances, and ultimately improve their game, by enabling them to implement the necessary changes to their match day tactics.

Mark Huckerby, Head of Sponsorship at Vodafone UK, said: “At Vodafone, we’re committed to investing in and supporting both the future of women’s rugby and the games’ emerging stars. Our EmpowHER project is the perfect embodiment of that commitment.

“It’s so exciting to follow the journeys of the university women’s teams at Edinburgh, Cardiff and Durham, as we watch how they have progressed since the start of the project.

“Seeing players like Nicole and Cieron earn their first international call-up has been incredible, and we’re looking forward to seeing many more of the project’s beneficiaries take their next steps into the elite game.”

The EmpowHER project builds on Vodafone’s long-term commitment to help drive the growth of women’s rugby at all levels of the game.

In addition to supporting the three university teams, Vodafone is the Founding Principal Partner of Welsh Women’s & Girls’ Rugby, supporting the national team and the Welsh Rugby Union to develop its elite female pathway and grassroots game.

Vodafone is also the proud partner of the two new women’s Celtic Challenge teams representing Wales, Gwalia Lightning and Brython Thunder, as well as the Armed Forces Women’s Rugby Team.

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