Women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing team sports in the world, played by nearly two million girls and women in over 110 countries – more than 20 per cent of the total playing population.
With World Rugby’s vision being ‘A sport for all, true to its values’ and its mission to ‘grow the global rugby family’, it is important to recognise that women and girls form an integral part of that vision and mission.
A five-year Women’s Rugby Plan was launched in 2011 and since then the women’s game has enjoyed unprecedented growth, helped by rugby sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games which is taking the game to established and new markets in the build up to Rio 2016.
The World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series will visit five destinations in 2016-17 with Sydney and Kitakyush, in Japan,joining the fray in what promises to be the most competitive season to date as teams look to build on the success of Rio 2016.
Defending champions Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and USA will all be spearheading that challenge with exciting times for sevens now that it has also been added to the Commonwealth Games programme alongside the men’s event in 2018 on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The 15s game is equally buoyant after a record-breaking Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 in France, which was played before record crowds at Marcoussis and Stade Jean Bouin and audiences on television with fans and media recognising the quality of rugby on display.
The most competitive tournament to date saw England crowned champions, although Ireland wrote their name into the history books by ending New Zealand’s 20-match unbeaten run to reach the semi-finals for the first time.
The increased profile of women’s rugby thanks to the world series and World Cup means that more young girls are eager to try the sport, which is highlighted by the fact that some 475,000 participants have already been introduced to the Get Into Rugby programme in 2016 alone – a figure that will continue to rise.