• Global rugby family to #EmbraceEquity on International Women’s Day
  • Excitement builds for debut of new global competition, WXV
  • Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programme continues to drive parity across the game
  • World Rugby builds on outcomes from 2022 Women in Rugby Summit to further accelerate the development of women in rugby on and off the field

On International Women’s Day, World Rugby is joining the global call to #EmbraceEquity as it steps up plans for the next phase of growth and transformation for women in rugby, culminating in the much-anticipated debut of the new global competition, WXV later this year.

Following the record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, which captured the imagination of fans around the world, and with accelerated investment, further governance reform and planning well underway for the biggest-ever Rugby World Cup 2025 in England, the pace of change in the women’s game in 2023 continues to advance.

The accelerated change is being driven by a transformation of World Rugby’s business model designed to supercharge the growth of the sport worldwide by focusing on moves that will make rugby more relevant and more accessible to more young people in more nations. Women and girls are at the heart of that plan, representing a significant opportunity to grow the reach and relevance of the sport.

The International Women’s Day theme, #EmbraceEquity, is part of a global movement to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world. A core component of World Rugby’s accelerating the global development of women in rugby 2017-25 strategic plan is driving equality in the game and ensuring opportunities for women to shine on and off the field.

Reflecting this mission, World Rugby is:

  • Implementing key actions from the Women in Rugby Summit held in New Zealand last year. The event, which attracted more than 300 delegates from 43 countries, was the world’s largest forum and network dedicated to advancing gender equality in rugby. The summit provided the opportunity for leaders and influencers to get together to discuss the biggest topics in women’s rugby, and map out priorities around the growth of audiences, revenue and participation.
  • Continuing to transform its governance structures in line with the outcomes of its independent-led governance review process with skills-based female leaders currently chairing six of the international federation’s 13 standing committees, including Women in Rugby Leadership Scholarship graduates.
  • Growing the global network of female leaders through its Women in Rugby Leadership Programme, in association with Capgemini. More than 60 inspiring female leaders have graduated via the programme so far, progressing to roles at the top of the sport’s governance, administration and high performance environments. The class of 2023 will be announced in the coming weeks.
  • Creating a network of engaged global rugby advocates, the Mastercard Youth Unstoppables, are changing the game for girls and young women around the world, sharing their experiences of how rugby has helped them develop their identity, confidence and sporting ambitions. The 2023 group will be announced this month.
  • Rolling out Project Accelerate, a new way of working together with national unions to develop strategic plans, align and fast-track the growth of the women’s game. Through a tailored partnership approach, Accelerate is uniquely geared towards creating greater sustainability across the Women’s game and a more competitive international game for future Rugby World Cups.
  • Launching WXV, the new 16-team, three-tier competition in October. It is set to supercharge the women’s 15s game, underscoring World Rugby’s commitment to increase competition, commercial and fan engagement opportunities, while raising competitiveness on the road to an expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup 2025.

World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby, Sally Horrox, said: “On International Women’s Day we are excited to join the global call to #EmbraceEquity and reconfirm our commitment to driving parity in rugby at all levels, on and off the field of play.

“Not only are we creating opportunities for women to succeed in leadership through the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Programme, and inspirational stories through the Mastercard Youth Unstoppables initiative, we are also delivering new competition and high performance pathways through the launch of WXV this October, which will reset the women’s international rugby landscape in the lead up to the biggest-ever Rugby World Cup 2025 in England.

“It is an exciting year for World Rugby as we continue to accelerate the global development of women in rugby, which will, in turn, accelerate the growth of the sport as a whole.”

World Rugby is celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month with a programme to spotlight the creative, innovative and trailblazing women across the organisation and sport.