The global rugby community has united to celebrate the growth and development of women’s rugby on International Women’s Day under the theme 'Make It Happen'.
World Rugby and its member unions are committed to 'Make It Happen' and ensure easy access to rugby for women and girls through initiatives like the Get Into Rugby mass participation programme, which saw 121,000 girls across 138 nations introduced to the game in 2014.
With women’s rugby one of the world’s fastest-growing team sports and a mass participation reality in nations such as USA, Mexico and India, global participation has increased from 1.5 to 1.77 million in 2014 as women’s rugby enjoyed a record year of exposure on and off the field.
World Rugby Women’s Development Manager Susan Carty said: "I hope that International Women’s Day has inspired a new generation of women and young girls to take up rugby, make new friendships and dream big.
"With rugby sevens set to make its Olympic Games debut next year, it should encourage even more women and girls to take up the sport."
Social media has been at the heart of reaching out and inspiring women and girls and showcasing the sport and its character-building values to new audiences around the globe, with players, coaches and match officials pledging their messages of support and excitement on International Women's Day by using the hashtag #WomensRugby and joining the conversation @WorldRugby.
Rachael Burford, women's athlete Rugby Committee member said: “Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 was a breakthrough for women’s rugby with the event capturing hearts and minds and deservedly attracting significant coverage owing to the quality, the skill and the passion of the players.
“With women’s rugby crossing cultural and sporting boundaries, the race to become the first female athletes to represent the sport at the Olympic Games is well and truly underway in 2015 as we look forward to rugby sevens at Rio 2016.”
Meanwhile, the world's top women's sevens players are preparing for the next round of the Women's Sevens Series, which reaches Atlanta, USA, next weekend. New Zealand are top of the standings going into the event, with Australia, Canada and France in close pursuit. The competition has taken a step up this year with Olympic Games qualification on the line for the top four teams at the end of the season.