Women’s rugby like a number of other male dominated sports are experiencing unprecedented growth around te world.
According to World Rugby, there has been a 28% increase in registered women rugby players in the last two years alone.
Participation levels are at an all-time high with 2.7 million players globally – making up more than a quarter of the global playing population.
For the second year running, more young girls have also got into rugby globally than boys and more than 40 per cent of rugby’s 400 million fanbase are female.
World Rugby had also launched a new Women in Rugby brand identity and campaign ‘Try and Stop Us’ in May this year aimed at driving increased participation and engagement among fans, audiences, players and investors in the women’s game.
This year has also seen a 51% increase in the number of women’s international matches played in 2019.
With the men’s World Cup Rugby coming to a conclusion early November, there would not be any lack of rugby matches to see with 12 women’s test matches in the month alone.
The test matches would feature teams from Canada, England, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, USA and Wales.
The November test window concludes a year that sees 74 women’s international fixtures played across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America.
World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “This has been a monumental year for the women’s game. A 51 per cent uplift in fixtures on 2018 is demonstrative of our commitment to growing and advancing the women’s game at all levels, particularly internationally.
“Providing more opportunities for international women’s teams to play competitive fixtures will continue to increase the standard of rugby and officiating as we build towards Rugby World Cup 2021, which will inspire many more women and girls to get into rugby across the globe.”
In August World Rugby announced that it has rebranded its men’s and women’s World Cup properties with the aim of achieving gender neutrality across the game.
Rugby World Cup 2021 is to be hosted in New Zealand in what will be the ninth edition of the tournament and the first to be held in the southern hemisphere. It will bring together 12 of the best women’s teams from across the globe a six-week tournament.
The top seven placed teams from the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 – New Zealand, England, USA, France, Canada, Australia and Wales, have already secured automatic qualification for the competition in 2021.
Four more teams would qualify if they win their respective continental championships in Oceania, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The final team to qualify for WRWC 2021 is be decided via a new Repechage tournament, which will take place in 2020. The tournament will comprise of the second placed teams in the Asia, Europe and Oceania regional tournaments and the winner of the play-off between South America and second-placed team from the Africa regional qualifier.
Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 was also a record-breaker in furthering the reach, engagement and profile of the women’s game. It recorded a total of 45 million video views and had a total reach of more than 70 million throughout the five match days.
Last year World Rugby had also announced a progressive remodelling of Women’s Rugby World Cup format ahead of 2021 to boost team and fan experience alike.
This included a revised match schedule guaranteeing longer rest periods which will greatly benefit player welfare. With the longer rest periods and additional play-off stage, the total tournament window was increased from 23 to 35 days.
In prioritising player welfare, the tournament squad sizes have also been increased from 28 to 30 players.