There are currently 128 members of World Rugby – 109 full members and 19 associate members – from six different regional associations in Asia Rugby, Rugby Africa, Rugby Europe, Oceania Rugby, Rugby Americas North and Sudamérica Rugby.
World Rugby’s Executive Committee considers applications for membership of World Rugby made by unions and the six regional associations.
If the set criteria are met, the Executive Committee then puts forward its recommendations to the World Rugby Council who have the ultimate authority to admit a union and/or association. A union is approved in the first instance as an associate member and once relevant criteria have been met, they can apply to be awarded full member status.
Approaching 10 million people play rugby in World Rugby member unions globally, with rugby’s reputation as a game for all shapes and sizes still holding firm.
World Rugby’s mass participation programme Get Into Rugby and other initiatives like Impact Beyond, allied to union-led initiatives such as the USA’s Rookie Rugby, have played a hugely important role in introducing people to the sport regardless of age, gender, background, race, religion or colour.
World Rugby’s funding and revenue distribution model underpins the global development of the game.
Income generated from commercial partnerships, broadcast rights and ticket sales from marquee tournaments, such as the men’s Rugby World Cup, help to fund targeted programmes, including training and education, player welfare, tournaments and high performance.
Between 2020-23, the international federation will invest more than £565 million in the sport.
In May 2020, an initial £26.5 million COVID-19 relief package was made available to unions in greatest immediate need of support following an independent evaluation and approval of union applications by the Executive Committee.