World Rugby has announced details of Accelerate, a new framework for growth and targeted investment that will supercharge the development of women’s rugby on and off the field.
With women and girls at the heart of World Rugby’s plan to grow the game as a whole, Accelerate is a new targeted investment approach. It will see the international federation form bespoke partnerships with national unions, governments and like-minded brands to raise standards on and off the field on the road to an historic Rugby World Cup 2033 in the USA.
Initially focusing on 20 unions capable of qualifying for the new WXV competition and expanded Rugby World Cup 2025 in England, Accelerate will frame the advancement of community growth plans, elite player pathways and ultimately raise standards.
Accelerate will help to build and co-fund programs, competitions, new roles, resources and support structures for partner national unions, increasing the capability and capacity needed to create a stronger, more competitive and sustainably growing women’s game in current and targeted growth markets around the world. It will also maintain and advance a dedicated focus on the welfare and wellbeing topics that matter to women.
Using the Accelerate framework, World Rugby will work in active partnership to:
- Strengthen unions, with a clear plan to grow the women and girls’ game
- Turbocharge participation, create thriving pathways and talent pools
- Improve national team standards, resulting in greater success on the global stage and more exciting tournaments
- Increase visibility, engagement and commercial revenues helping drive sustainability
This follows a successful pilot project in Australia which led to increased government and union investment, part-time contracts for 35 international and elite domestic players, new parenting and pregnancy policies, further Super W elite competition and community game development.
The program is supported by a series of three insight publications to assist all member unions in their activities – an Accelerate digital toolkit, the independently developed Business case for investment into women’s rugby report, and a game-wide Social return on investment report. The business case report outlines the scale of the opportunity, indicating that the commercial value of the women’s game is forecast to grow tenfold over the next decade. The women’s rugby audience is growing fast, with one in five women’s rugby fans new to the game.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “There is phenomenal momentum across women’s rugby following last year’s record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand and we are making great strides accelerating the women’s game with our partners, Capgemini and Mastercard, and national unions.
“The Accelerate program, with additional, targeted investment, will further transform the game, creating a long-term platform for sustainable success. It will allow us to continue to grow at pace and realize the full potential and incredible opportunity created by women and girls in our sport. By working in close partnership with unions to deliver impactful change through Accelerate we can truly ignite the women’s game, increasing competitiveness and driving even greater fan and commercial interest.”
World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby Sally Horrox said: “Women and girls are at the heart of World Rugby’s ambitious growth plan. The business case for investment in women's rugby is clear. We know through evidence-based research that women and girls represent the single biggest opportunity for growth over the next decade.
“Where unions have the will, and through Accelerate we are partnering with between 15 and 20 for the next three years, to find the optimum way to accelerate sustainable growth. Together, we have a golden opportunity to raise standards on and off the field in the three-year sprint to an expanded Rugby World Cup 2025 in England via our new WXV competition. This will create a springboard for even greater growth over the next decade to Rugby World Cup 2033 in the USA and beyond.”
In addition to the launch of the new global 18-team, three-level WXV competition, and the roll out of Accelerate, World Rugby is continuing to transform its governance structures in line with the outcomes of its independent-led governance review process. It is also implementing key actions from the Women in Rugby Summit held in New Zealand last year, which attracted more than 300 delegates from 43 countries; growing the global network of female leaders through its Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership Program and expanding its network of engaged global rugby advocates, through the Mastercard Youth Unstoppables.