London reaping rewards of mass investment into women and girls’ rugby

The RFU has today celebrated Impact ’25, a transformational legacy programme that has seen £12.13m of Government funding committed to women and girls’ grassroots rugby already as part of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, with the aim of growing the game throughout the country.

Today also marks 500 days to go until the tournament kicks off at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on 22 August 2025.

Impact ’25 will be delivered by the RFU in partnership with UK Government, Sport England and UK Sport, with the programme providing substantial improvements in facilities and greater opportunities for females at all levels of the game in England, with a range of support being offered to clubs across four key pillars: Facility Development, Coaches and Match Officials, Playing and Volunteering, and Community and Fan Engagement.

To mark 500 days to go to the curtain-raiser of Rugby World Cup 2025, the tournament legacy programme was announced today, with Brighton & Hove hosting a celebration event.

Bill Sweeney, CEO, RFU said: “The opportunity to grow the women’s game was a primary driver behind our bid to host Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, and we are very grateful to Government for committing funding to this transformational programme as part of the tournament.

“Working together with Government, UK Sport, Sport England and World Rugby we will create a legacy for women’s rugby in England and the home nations, both in terms of attracting more fans and people to play, coach, officiate, and volunteer.

“We are already seeing huge strides forwards being made thanks to Impact ‘25 and look forward to seeing further progress over the coming months and years.”

Thanks to Impact ‘25 in London and the South East, 76 clubs have been awarded funding to upgrade toilet facilities and 68 have been provided with sanitary packages, with 9 larger grants for clubs to develop social spaces and changing rooms, all aimed at making rugby clubs more welcoming and inclusive of female players.  361 coaches and match officials have been supported with their development in order to increase the number, quality and visibility of female coaches and match officials in rugby and 100 clubs have received grants to start up U12s activity to bring more girls who have never been involved in the sport, into rugby clubs.

The aim of Impact ‘25 is to accelerate the growth of women’s rugby and help the RFU achieve its ambition of 100,000 female players by 2027. The women’s game in England is already flourishing from the grassroots level through to the elite; the Red Roses are currently ranked the number one team in the world, while the participation number for women and girls have risen to over 40,000 with over 800 clubs offering women’s and girls’ rugby.

Next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 and its legacy programme will be a game-changer for women’s participation across the sport, shaping positive perceptions at all levels of the game and benefitting local communities. The tournament promises to be an era-defining celebration of women’s rugby with unprecedented levels of engagement throughout the country and beyond.  Brighton and Hove Albion Community Stadium and Twickenham Stadium are among eight host venues for the tournament. The World Cup kicks off in Sunderland on 22 August 2025, with the final being held at the iconic Twickenham Stadium.  The ambition is to sell-out Twickenham and break the current world record attendance of 58,498 set by the Red Roses in April 2023. 

Impact ‘25 funding began in the 2022-23 season and was awarded for four years until 2025-26. The funding is being utilised to increase access to rugby for women and girls, in line with the RFU’s Every Rose action plan and the tournament’s goal to reach new audiences and inspire a generation of fans. All home nations will benefit from funding to help develop female coaches and match officials.

Stuart Andrew, Sports Minister, said: “With the Women’s Rugby World Cup round the corner, this legacy programme is already impacting communities, and will continue to ensure greater opportunities for women and girls to play sport for many years to come.

“Impact ’25 will help with our target to get 3.5 million more children and adults active by 2030 and is on top of £400 million being invested by the Government in high-quality grassroots sports facilities around the UK.”

Lisa Dodd-Mayne, Executive Director, Place at Sport England, said: “We support the RFU’s target of getting 100,000 women and girls playing rugby by 2027.  We have made progress towards this and the Rugby World Cup 2025 and the Impact Programme will play a key role in achieving this.”

Sarah Bern, Red Roses prop said: “We’ve seen huge developments in the women’s game over the past few years and the investment from Impact ‘25 and the awareness next year’s Rugby World Cup will bring to rugby is only going to help drive that growth even further. I am so excited to see the impact that next year’s tournament will have on growing the sport that I love so much.”

Sarah Massey, Managing Director, Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, said: “The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 will be a generational moment for rugby that will inspire the next generation of players and welcome new fans to the sport.

“Impact ’25 provides an unprecedented opportunity to grow the game, benefitting local communities across the nation by creating more opportunities for women and girls to get involved in playing, officiating and coaching.”

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