World Rugby unveil ‘legacy’ priorities to ramp up profile of the women’s game

DUBLIN, Ireland — Building a lasting impact is something World Rugby has struggled with when it comes to the women’s game. But the word “legacy” was central to its messaging as the organisation looks ahead to the next decade of the sport, with the hosts for the World Cups in 2025, 2029 and 2033 announced in Dublin on Thursday.

England will host the 2025 edition, while Australia will take control in 2029 before the United States host the competition in 2033. Before all that, though, there is the delayed World Cup this autumn in New Zealand. There was optimism on the ground that these future events would draw record crowds, with talk of selling out the 82,000 seat stadium of Twickenham. However, New Zealand has struggled to push tickets for the upcoming tournament and with a qualification process marred in delays and poor communication, it is perhaps unsurprising that World Rugby is already looking ahead.

For World Rugby’s newly appointed director of women’s rugby Sally Horrox, there are three big priorities in the coming years:

  1. Increasing the sport’s profile

  2. Increasing investment

  3. Advancing the sport’s professional and commercial development.

“When we’re trying to grow a sport — and women’s rugby is in a really early stage globally of its development — visibility is what drives demand,” Horrox told ESPN.

“So in that sense, this runway, this plan, this 10-year certainty that we get is critical and it is where women’s sport has gone wrong in the past. They haven’t got that luxury of planning and resources and investment and then commercial partnerships that come on the back of it. That’s the great thing to have this run-in and the countries we’ve chosen are really strong in terms of their potential.”

Horrox has experience in helping to bring women’s sport to the forefront. She is a former non-executive director of England Netball; an advisor to UEFA, international football federations and the English Football Association; and has been particularly involved in the Vitality Netball Super League and the Women’s Super League — two leagues that have seen impressive growth in recent years.

“I think what we’re driving at here is competitive balance in the growth of the game. And again, going back to the point about the game being at quite a young stage with its investment globally and its development, there are significant differences worldwide in terms of the quality, the standards, the ability for the women to play full-time, part-time, amateur,” she said.

“We have to narrow that competitive gap to make the sport as attractive as it can be but that will take time. It’s not going to happen overnight; that will happen throughout the [next] decade.

“Today is brilliant in terms of announcing this spectacular remarkable moments in time but the day job is a thriving day in, day out sport for girls and women worldwide, so you’re going to need stronger domestic competitions, you’re going to need better pathways, you’re going to have to have…

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Read More: World Rugby unveil ‘legacy’ priorities to ramp up profile of the women’s game 2022-05-13 14:56:04

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