World Rugby has welcomed a decision by Rugby Canada that will see greater gender balance brought to the governance of the sport in Canada, after an historic motion was unanimously passed at the national union’s Annual General Meeting in Toronto.

Recognising the importance of balanced leadership that reflects its members, Rugby Canada's Board of Directors (BOD) and Provincial Unions have supported a motion ensuring that its governance will be comprised by no less than 40 per cent of both genders.

"It is an historic day for Canadian rugby and I am thrilled to have the unanimous support of our Board, Provinces and Stakeholders," said Kathy Henderson, Rugby Canada Vice-Chair.

With more than 2.4 million women and girls playing the game worldwide, accounting for over a quarter of all players globally, women's rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth in both sevens and 15s.

"I've been collaborating with World Rugby and they have recognised Canada as a leader in gender equality. Our Board of Directors and Provinces have worked tirelessly to grow the number of strong female voices in Rugby Canada's leadership over the last five years, and now we've made it official moving forward," she added.

Tim Powers, Chair of the Rugby Canada Board of Directors said: "Whether in rugby or in other environments diverse boards make for better governance. Our Canadian women have long been leading on the field, we need more of that leadership in our boardroom and throughout Canadian rugby."

The announcement aligns with World Rugby's wider strategy to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field of play and bring gender balance to the highest levels of governance through its ground-breaking Women’s Plan 2017-25.

Under the landmark reform, announced last November, World Rugby has increased the number of people who may sit on Council – its highest decision-making body – from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women. Next month will see the first Council Meeting take place since the historic reform was introduced.

World Rugby General Manager of Women’s Rugby Katie Sadleir added: “We congratulate Rugby Canada on this historic governance reform, which aligns with World Rugby’s global commitment to advancing gender parity on and off the field of play.

“These are exciting times for the advancement of women in rugby and it is great to see Rugby Canada and its provincial unions leading the way.”