Rugby has always been described as a game for all shapes and sizes. As the game evolves, World Rugby accepts its responsibility to ensure that, as the pinnacles of the game achieved through elite performance are driven higher, the grass root foundations of the game are broadened and deepened.

There is a strong symbiotic relationship between the development of the game and performance: without one, the other cannot reach its potential.

World Rugby Participation Plan

The new World Rugby Participation Plan recognises the need to embrace and promote the game’s diversity and ensure it is inclusive in all that it sets out to achieve. The new plan must ensure it can inspire and support all stakeholders to grow, either quantitatively through engagement, recruitment and retention of new participants, or qualitatively by promotion of best practice, which drives up standards and ensure the highest ‘quality of experience’ for all participants. These participants could be players, coaches, match officials, volunteers or spectators.

World Rugby aims to:

  • Support Member Unions to shape the evolution of the whole game in the short, medium and long term
  • Support Member Unions and Regional Associations in creating the necessary strategies and infrastructure to promote long term sustainable game growth
  • Deploy World Rugby resources to maximise return on investment
  • Globally grow the core game of 15s and sevens, retaining existing players in the core game while also introducing new players to both the core game and its newer variants
  • Provide alternative formats and variants of the game to offer a different experience for newcomers
  • Enhance provision in traditional and new markets through effective promotion, marketing and game popularisation
  • Underpin High Performance systems with efficient and effective structures to increase competitiveness of teams competing for Rugby World Cup and Olympic qualification
  • Enhance pathways and internal systems of governance and participant development pathways in our most developed unions to drive up the quality of provision and quality of experience of the game to all
  • Support the growth of fans in the game
  • Refine and develop data, insight and analytical capability of World Rugby to more effectively monitor global game trends and advise member unions and regions appropriately


Equality in opportunity and provision

Achieving equality in opportunity and provision must lie at the heart of all things World Rugby does. This must be the key driver in all our efforts to grow the game, and no more so than in the women’s game.

The participation plan must ensure the women’s strategy is entwined fully in all that it sets out to do. The women’s strategy is part of World Rugby’s overall strategy to grow the game, it is not separate or different. The plan must amplify the key objectives of the women’s plan that sit under the overall umbrella of game growth.

Talent ID

In addition to promoting participation, having effective talent identification and development programmes is an important step for unions who have the desire and capability to compete at international level.

The identification and preparation of these players as part of a long-term player development programme is important from a player welfare and performance perspective.

All unions working in the High Performance programme, or working towards it, must have these programmes in place or under development to ensure long term success.

Revised funding strategy

World Rugby has traditionally supported unions with development investment funding to support the growth and development of the game. However, it has become evident that not all unions have the capability or ambition to significantly expand the game in their country. For some, maintaining the status quo is the goal, while for others it is a challenge.

World Rugby wishes to recognise this difference in need. The revised development investment funding programme will offer more to those capable of assisting World Rugby in meeting its strategic growth objectives, whilst maintaining support to those working hard to maintain provision.