• Total registered female players increase by 28% in 2018 
  • Women account for more than a quarter of total players globally
  • 37% increase in video views from female audiences
  • Ten global leadership scholarships appointed in 2018
  • Successful remodelling of Women’s Rugby World Cup format 
  • New Zealand appointed Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 host for the first time
  • Transformational governance reform of World Rugby Council

Since the inception of World Rugby’s ambitious plan, Accelerating the Global Development of Women in Rugby 2017-2025, which aims to strengthen and support the growth of the women’s game and promote parity, important advances have been made both on and off the field in year one of implementation. 
With 9.6 million players recorded globally, latest player figures show total female players account for 2.7 million in World Rugby member unions, a 10% increase when compared with 2017.  
In 2018, the total registered female players figure saw the biggest increase at 28% which equates to 581,000 players when compared with 2017. 
Year one of the women’s development plan has also seen important advances off the field;

  • The implementation of the transformational governance reform which saw the introduction of an additional 17 female positions targeted on increasing diversity of World Rugby Council.
  • The appointment of ten global leadership development scholarships, which aim to maximise the rugby leadership potential of talented women working in the game.
  • Leadership forums were held in Botswana, Madrid and Bangkok run by Rugby Asia, Europe and Africa all aimed at providing strategic direction to regional growth for women’s rugby.
  • Commencement of an International Competition Calendar Review and completed a High-Performance Assessment of 22 Unions.
  • Completion of a High-Performance Coaching review which put forward a set of recommendations to increase opportunities for female coaches at high-performance level.
  • New Zealand appointed Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 host, the first time the competition will be played in the southern hemisphere.
  • Successful remodelling of Women’s Rugby World Cup format ahead of 2021 to boost team and fan experience alike;
    • A revised match schedule guaranteeing longer rest periods which will greatly benefit player welfare
    • The addition of the quarter-final stage to allow teams a further opportunity to play for a higher position.
    • With the longer rest periods and additional play-off stage, the total tournament window will increase from 23 to 35 days
    • Furthering World Rugby’s commitment to prioritising player welfare by increasing tournament squad sizes from 28 to 30 players.
  • Increased engagement with women’s audiences across World Rugby digital platforms in 2018. World Rugby recorded an increase of 37% in video views from women’s audiences when compared to 2017 and World Rugby and Rugby World Cup twitter channels have a female audience base of over 30% for the first time ever.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont today said “We have seen phenomenal strides made in year one of the implementation of the women’s action plan. We are wholly committed to driving gender-balance and ensuring that women have equal opportunities in all areas of the game, the recent and successful reform of Council with the introduction of 17 female representatives is testament to that commitment.  
“As we move into year two, we are looking forward to working with our member unions and regional associations as we continue to implement and deliver on our strategic plan in fast-tracking the development of women in rugby.” 
World Rugby General Manager Katie Sadleir today said “It’s been a busy and exciting year one implementing the women’s action plan. We have made important steps forward across the game, working collaboratively with our member unions and regional associations to drive the development opportunities for women in rugby both on and off the pitch and also in increasing engagement with female audiences. 
“While we are moving in the right direction, we are determined to continue to push forward in delivering on our strategic objectives which will ultimately benefit the sport and put World Rugby at the fore as a global leader in sport as a game for all.”  
World Rugby Women’s Advisory Committee Chairman Serge Simon today said “We are pleased with the progress that has been made across all the five work streams outlined in the women’s development strategic plan. The results and outcomes are fantastic, surpassing our expectations. We are looking forward to implementing year two.”