Source: INPHO

RFU Announces Bid to Host Women’s RWC in 2025

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  • Ambition to be best attended Women’s RWC ever, hosting nationwide pool games and selling out the final at Twickenham to set a benchmark for future world cups while growing the women’s domestic and global game 
  • Grass roots legacy to modernise facilities in hundreds of clubs, attract 500 new female coaches 1,000 new match officials and 60,000 new registered female players in clubs
  • Elite legacy focus to support development of domestic rugby across all Home Nations with specific aim to develop 120 professional female coaches and 30 female referees.  Long term aspiration for 2025 investment to drive up standards in domestic teams to enable England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to all qualify for RWC in 2029 for the first time in over 20 years  
  • Games would boost UK economy by £156m with a legacy programme to generate an estimated £86m

With just one year to go until the next Women’s Rugby World Cup, the RFU has confirmed it aims to submit a bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2025 and has formally provided an expression of interest to World Rugby.

Since England last hosted the RWC in 2010 and won it in 2014, women’s rugby has grown exponentially with World Rugby stating the women’s game is the single biggest opportunity to grow the sport globally.  England’s 15-a-side team is now the No 1 ranked team in the world and the RFU has grown female participation in England from 13,000 to 40,000 registered players in clubs, with a growing pipeline of 80,000 girls playing in schools, colleges and universities.

For the 2025 bid the RFU plans to adopt a multi-city and multi-region approach to delivering the tournament. This hosting model will facilitate great opportunities for people living in different parts of the country to attend the tournament, promoting rugby and enhancing participation in the sport nationwide.

A central theme to the bid will be to deliver a legacy programme in parallel to the tournament from 2022 to 2025 for growing the women’s game across the country. The legacy programme will focus on three key strands: Creating capacity through facility development and the recruitment of female coaches and referees, creating a multigenerational legacy through a call to arms for more young girls and university women to play, and for women who didn’t have the opportunity to play to become fans, and to support international development within the home unions.

The legacy programme will see facilities standards improved to enhance the experiences women and girls have in hundreds of clubs. Through investment, the programme will modernise toilet facilities, upgrade changing rooms and develop social spaces in clubs across the country.

Grass roots education and mentor programmes will aim to attract 500 new female coaches and 1,000 match officials and 60,000 new registered players.

Through partnerships with universities, the legacy programme will recruit and retain players and plans to create 300 club leaders of the future with activities including the staging of a Festival of Rugby event engaging 2,500 students and 150 club transition events.

With the aim of attracting more fans of women’s rugby in the build up to 2025, renewed effort will be put on marketing and encouraging fan attendance at Allianz Premier 15s matches and club houses will be opened up to hosting events to encourage women who have never played or watched rugby to see rugby clubs as a place they would like to visit.

The RFU is also committed to growing the English game leading into 2025 and has created two new roles to focus on implementing an ‘Every Rose Action Plan’.

Alex Teasdale has been appointed Head of Women’s and Girls’ Game and will be responsible for leading the women’s game in participation, performance, commerciality and visibility to deliver the action plan.

Matt Farnes becomes the RFU’s first women’s and girls’ marketing manager, having previously worked across numerous game-wide campaigns including ‘Pitch Up For Rugby’ and ‘Show Your Shirt’ in his role as marketing manager. Matt has also worked across the women’s and girls’ game, supporting Allianz Premier 15s, Allianz Inner Warrior, and driving attendance at women’s events.

New roles have also been introduced to support key areas, previously looked after by Nicky Ponsford, who joined World Rugby as Women’s High-Performance Manager on a two-year secondment. Amy Kimber-Roberts moves to become Allianz Premier 15s Strategic Operations Manager and will be supported by an Allianz Premier 15s Operations Executive.

A Women’s Performance Manager will be appointed in the coming weeks, to work across the organisation and game to deliver the key performance outcomes outlined in the action plan.

International development will see investment into women’s elite rugby directed through the Home Unions to support the development of 120 female coaches and 30 female referees. The focus on female coaches and referees will improve the player experience across the Home Nations, with high level coaching fundamental to developing competitive players and top-level match officials necessary to facilitate a high-quality league and support the growth of an underrepresented cohort in elite rugby.  The long-term ambition is to drive up standards in the domestic teams to enable England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland to all qualify for RWC in 2029 for the first time in over 20 years.

Speaking about the bid RFU Chief Executive, Bill Sweeney said; “Securing RWC 2025 would add to the impressive list of major sporting events that the UK has attracted since London 2012, reinforcing the UK’s international reputation as a leading major events’ destination and a global leader in promoting women’s sport.  As well as providing great economic returns, hosting the tournament would help to further promote rugby as an inclusive sport and provide a springboard to narrow the gap between male and female participation.”

A study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) demonstrated hosting the RWC in 2025 would be of benefit to the local economies of host venues around the country through job creation as well as services provided and the RWC could boost the economy by £156.25m with projections of an economic return of £5 for every £1 invested.

The Legacy Programme could generate an estimated £86m. The values attributed to the legacy programme are based on increasing female participation in rugby and volunteering in the sport, combined with evidence on the contribution of community sport and physical activity in England to the five outcomes identified in the UK Government strategy for sport.

Sue Day, RFU Chief Operations and Finance Officer and former England Women’s Captain who represented England at three Rugby World Cups and won three grand slams said; “Securing a bid to host the Women’s RWC would be incredible.  We want to leave a lasting legacy for women’s rugby in England, the UK and across the world, both in terms of attracting more people to play and attracting new fans. As we have seen from other home World Cups in Cricket, Hockey and Netball a RWC would further advance all women’s sport and nothing would beat watching the Red Roses compete in front of a full capacity crowd at Twickenham Stadium.”

Subject to securing sufficient private and public sector funding, the final bid submission will go to World Rugby for consideration in January 2022.

With thanks to the RFU