Mon, 27 May 2024

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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
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Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2025 will supercharge growth for women’s sport across the country


4 min read

Women’s sport is growing – fast. More people are playing, participating and watching than ever before.

Women’s rugby is playing a big part in this growth with the Red Roses (England’s women’s team) recently winning the Six Nations Grand Slam in front of a world record 58,498 fans, beating a record set only months earlier at the Rugby World Cup Final. This was also the first standalone Red Roses fixture at Twickenham Stadium showing that with investment you can grow the value, in every sense of the word, of women’s sport.

The increase in people coming to watch the Red Roses has changed significantly since 2007. The team played at Old Albanian’s rugby club in front of a few hundred people, mainly friends and family, and are now playing in front of sell out stadiums and world record crowds. It’s unbelievable, but what excites us more is that the crowds are only going to get bigger as we progress towards the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

The Rugby World Cup Impact Programme will ensure that the legacy of the tournament will also be felt across England

For England Rugby, this was all planned for as part of the women and girls’ strategy Every Rose and now hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2025 will help supercharge this work. Having secured the right to host the tournament they have set ambitious targets for 2025 to be the biggest and best women’s tournament ever, selling out Twickenham for the final. The tournament will also provide an opportunity to develop the sport across the country with 75 per cent of matches being hosted outside of London and the South East. The Rugby World Cup Impact Programme will ensure that the legacy of the tournament will also be felt across England with more players, referees, coaches and volunteers getting involved.

Female participation in rugby is growing and there are now 40,000 registered players. Hopefully the Rugby World Cup will accelerate participation and the ambition is to have 100,000 players by 2027. Anyone who has been involved in a thriving community club will know that to achieve this growth, it is also important to increase the number of female coaches, match officials and volunteers, who all play an integral role in the game. The Rugby World Cup 2025 Impact Programme will seek to support clubs across the country to sustainably grow numbers.

It is also vitally important for recruiting and retaining participants (particularly female participants) that clubs offer a welcoming environment. The impact programme will support clubs with investment into 120 female friendly spaces, 88 new female changing rooms in 44 clubs and 200 female toilets. Additionally, we are working with clubs to provide 300 sanitary packages and welcome kits to make sure women turning up at a club feel like there is a place for them.

Beyond the legacy work happening in England, England Rugby is also working with World Rugby (the sport’s international federation) to support Wales, Scotland and Ireland with developing the women’s game – aiming to raise the competitive levels across the home nations.

The growth of women’s sport has not happened overnight. England Rugby has invested in the women and girls’ game for 10 plus years and it will take further sustained investment for the women’s game to become profitable. Hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2025 will play a vital role in supercharging the growth of women and girls’ sport across the UK, inspiring the next generation of young people to get involved.  

The host cities and venues for the tournament will be announced soon, as will all the details of the impact programme. When the cities and programmes are announced, you can play your part in getting your communities to support the event and women’s sport. Working together we can help show that the UK will continue to push boundaries and break records. 


Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP for Chatham & Aylesford. Sarah Hunter, former captain of England women’s rugby team

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