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Rugby Union Football: Development of the Women’s Game

 By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
World Rugby, the Governing Body of Rugby Union Football, has announced that one of its three strategic priorities is the further development of the women’s game, which like other women’s sports, including its counterpart, women’s soccer, is growing in popularity around the world. Women’s rugby is played according to the same rules as the men’s game with the same number of players, namely fifteen, and traces its origins back to the late nineteenth century. Next year sees the postponed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in July, which will feature the Women’s Olympic Sevens Tournament, and the Women’s Rugby World Cup in September in New Zealand, both of which events will showcase the women’s game and raise its profile and popularity. The World Cup in New Zealand will be the ninth edition of the event and the first time that it has been held in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand having won the World Cup in 2017. Katie Sadleir, the general manager of the women’s game, has confirmed that this commitment by World Rugby remains despite the Coronavirus Pandemic, which is putting a strain on finances. According to Sadleir: “It is the strategic growth area of the game with participation up 28% year on year [and] we are pushing normalising women’s rugby on and off the field.” She described the Olympics and the World Cup as “pinnacle events” and “amazing opportunities” for the women’s game! Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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