121,000 girls across 138 nations were introduced to rugby in 2014.
1.77 million women across the globe were playing rugby in 2014.
In the future: women’s rugby sevens teams are going to the Olympics for the first time in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and are expected to gain exposure on and off the field like they’ve never seen before.
A macho sport is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing female team sports.
“We are experiencing significant growth in the game for women and girls around the world. Once given the opportunity, girls will play, regardless of where in the world they are. There are as many girls taking up the sport in Fiji and Tonga as boys, girls are playing rugby in Iran and Egypt. Rugby is central to the sport for development programme in Laos where girls develop life skills and leadership skills as well as playing rugby,” World Rugby Women’s Development Manager, Susan Carty, says to Sport Executive.
“And becoming an Olympic sport has already added huge impetus to the development of the game for women and girls. More countries are getting involved, increasing support and engagement from NOCs and government agencies, and increased funding directed to women’s rugby. More unions are contracting full-time female players and including them in professional high-performance centres. Women and girls in the game are set to reach new heights post-Rio 2016 when women’s rugby will reach a record global audience,” Susan Carty continues.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has since 2012 developed the ‘Get Into Rugby’ programme with resources for girls:
“The participation of girls in the programme is already at 36 percent and the number of girls taking up the sport continues to increase across all Regions of the world. Rugby is a great sport for girls,” Susan Carty explains.
Using social media to propel the game’s popularity among women, initiatives such as ‘Get Into Rugby’, ‘Make It Happen’ on International Women’s Day and the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 paving the way for a shift in rugby from being a macho to a unisex sport. And maybe away from the sexism that also has racked the sport such as the big scandal in Australian rugby back in 2009 where male players have been made to do courses on how to treat women with respect after abusive behaviour.
“And with rugby sevens set to make its Olympic Games debut, it should encourage even more women and girls to take up the sport,” Susan Carty concludes.
All quotes from Susan Carty.