And one of the best examples is in the small South-East Asian nation of Laos where the organisation, Sport Matters, is fostering a positive environment despite the sport appearing to be somewhat of an awkward fit.

"On the outside it rugby looks like an unusual sport choice for the country of Laos but the reason it's been so successful, particularly for women and girls, is because it's an introduced sport to the 12 target villages; there wasn't a gender bias," Sport Matters chief executive Jackie Lauff told ESPN.

"So, football soccer, is typically seen as a boys' sport and the same with volleyball … so rugby as an introduced sport offered something unique for girls and women. And it's really provided a space for them to advocate for some of their key issues; that's around things like early marriage, the rights and responsibilities of girls and women in those villages, and really having a say over their futures."

Working across Australia, South Africa, Asia and the Pacific for the last three years, Sport Matters provides developing communities with access to sports equipment, much of which is donated.

"Sport Matters is the first organisation of its kind; we're all about using sport for more than sport," Lauff said. "People often ask us how they can get involved and how they can support; for us, it's really about matching the needs of our partners. We see lots of equipment, particularly sports equipment, being donated to different countries - particularly developing countries - like second-hand equipment and that can be clothing or balls or shoes.

"Our point of difference is that we'd like to match, and tailor, the equipment that's being provided to our partner countries to exactly what they need."

For Laos, that's 400 rugby balls; a target Sport Matters, along with partners Childfund Australia and Jinta Sport, is pursuing through its "Give Rugby" and "Give a ball, Get a ball" campaigns.

"So we've got an offer; it's a 'Give a ball, get a ball' campaign where people can donate a Fair Trade rugby ball that will be used in the 12 villages in Laos - that's $40," Lauff said. "And we've got a unique opportunity for people as well, if they choose, to donate a ball and then also get themselves a fair-trade rugby ball.

"The balls have been customized with the right logos that match the project partners, and they've also got a message on them that the young leaders in Laos have come up with themselves which is 'Rugby for All'."

By Sam Bruce - ESPN Scrum - December 22, 2014