THE RUGBY Football Union, the governing body of English Rugby, has launched a strategy to take the game to 100,000 females across England.
The recent success of the England Women at the World Cup in Paris, has given the grassroots an unprecedented boost, to an already fast growing game.
The strategy aims to grow the game to see 25,000 women and girls taking part in contact rugby by 2017, whilst expanding the reach of the game to attract more coaches, volunteers, officials, social players and fans.
There has been a tremendous spike in numbers in the last 12 months alone, with participation figures during that period rising from 15,000 girls and women playing the sport to 18,000. That increase represents double the growth seen in any other single year, and makes England the largest female rugby playing population in the world. There has also been a strong increase in females taking up social rugby such as O2 Touch, and other informal ways of playing.
The RFU will be targeting 200 clubs in England, along with schools, colleges and universities in those areas to make rugby an option for females.
Rugby World Cup winner Sarah Hunter, said: “It really feels like something has changed in our sport, and I am hugely excited about what the future holds for women’s rugby. It was great to be in the Houses of Parliament to help launch the strategy. It will hopefully inspire lots more women and girls to give rugby a go, with many no doubt getting hooked like us.”
This strategy focuses on the needs of the grassroots game, covering four main areas –ensuring a warm and welcoming club environment, providing local options for every need, ensuring that the player pathway is clear and connected, and ensuring that rugby is a real option for females when considering their sporting and fitness options.
Helen Grant, Sports Minister said: “The future of women’s rugby at the elite level is bright. England’s Women’s team are an inspiration to women and girls coming into the sport, particularly after their brilliant World Cup win. I welcome the RFU’s strategy to get more women involved in the game be that as players, coaches or volunteers.”