The countdown to Rugby World Cup 2025 went up a notch after the venues for the 10th tournament were confirmed.
In 2025, the best women’s players on the planet will gather in England, where New Zealand will defend the title they won in front of 42,579 fans at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Rugby World Cup 2021, held a year later in 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is a difficult act to follow, but England have set out their stall to put on a show-stopping tournament.
From the world’s biggest dedicated rugby venue, Twickenham Stadium, to the more intimate surroundings of York Community Stadium, every venue has hosted major events.
Here’s the lowdown on the host stadiums for Rugby World Cup 2025.
TWICKENHAM STADIUM, LONDON (82,000)
Twickenham – the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world – needs no introduction. It has hosted internationals since 1910, and Rugby World Cup matches in 1991, 1999 and 2015, including two finals.
More recently, a world-record 58,498 crowd saw England’s women claim the 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam there in a thrilling game of two halves against France.
Marlie Packer captained the Red Roses that day. She summed up the stadium: “Twickenham is an extremely special place to play and we can’t wait for 80,000 of you to be cheering us on as we look to inspire the next generation of Red Roses.”
ASHTON GATE, BRISTOL (26,387)
The venerable home of Bristol Bears rugby club and Bristol City football club hosted sports events since 1887, and rugby matches since the 1920s.
The 2024 TikTok women’s Six Nations match between England and Wales will be played there, and it was the venue for a Rugby World Cup 2021 warm-up match between the same sides.
Ashton Gate has also staged a men’s Rugby World Cup tie – New Zealand’s 45-9 win over Tonga in 1999.
Bristol Bears and England player Amber Reed, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2014, said: “Ashton Gate is a fantastic stadium. As a Bristol girl I’ve had the pleasure of playing there on several occasions in a white jersey and in a Bears jersey.
“Whenever we play there the fans are unreal – the noise and the atmosphere elevates every single time you walk into the stadium.
“Rugby in the southwest is booming so to have Ashton Gate as a World Cup venue is going to be incredible in 2025.”
STADIUM OF LIGHT, SUNDERLAND (48,707)
Football fans will recognise Sunderland’s 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light, which has been home to Sunderland AFC since 1997, and has hosted a number of football internationals, as well as numerous concerts.
In 2025, it will bring women’s rugby to the north east of England.
Zoe Aldcroft, World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year in 2021, said: “Spreading the women’s game to the north east at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light will be fantastic in 2025.
“We’re super excited for more rugby-loving fans to experience international rugby in the north of England and we’re also relishing the chance to meet new fans of the sport.”
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION STADIUM (31,800)
Could any rugby fan ever forget Brighton and Hove Stadium, venue for one of the greatest upsets in international rugby history when Japan beat South Africa at Rugby World Cup 2015?
England and Saracens’ wing Jess Breach certainly hasn’t: “After 2015 with the boys, it’s amazing to have rugby come back to Brighton with the girls for the 2025 Rugby World Cup,” she said.
“Brighton is a brilliant seaside city where I played when I was younger which makes it even more exciting.”
The stadium had opened four years previously, and is home to Premier League football team Brighton and Hove Albion.
As well as South Africa v Japan, it hosted Samoa v USA in 2015, and England U20s v France U20s in the final round of that year’s Under 20 Six Nations.
FRANKLIN’S GARDENS, NORTHAMPTON (15,153)
Deep in traditional English rugby country, the 15,249-capacity Franklin’s Gardens, home ground of Premiership outfit Northampton Saints and a regular venue for Premier 15s side Loughborough Lightning, has hosted rugby matches since the 19th century.
Red Roses’ and Lightning centre Emily Scarratt said: “Franklin’s Gardens is a traditional rugby hotbed and we can’t wait to bring the Rugby World Cup there in 2025.
“We want to inspire the next generation of players in the Midlands and having one of the focal points for the region as a host venue will go a long way to doing just that.”
SANDY PARK, EXETER (15,000)
Another venue that knows how to put on a rugby show as it has been the home ground of Exeter Chiefs since 2006. In July 2023, it was confirmed that the home stadium of English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs would host a two-test series between England and Canada in September, and it was selected as a venue for Rugby World Cup 2015.
England and Exeter scrum-half Claudia McDonald said: “Our fanbase down in Exeter, come rain or shine, has been absolutely incredible and absolutely immense for Red Roses’ matches.
“The fans pack out the stadium and make so much noise. It’s going to be amazing for Exeter to host matches and we can’t wait to see so many people there.”
SALFORD COMMUNITY STADIUM (11,404)
Salford Stadium, in northwest England, has been the thoroughly modern home of Sale Sharks, whose women’s team play in the Premier 15s and whose men’s side is in the English Premiership since it opened in 2012.
It was also the venue for the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2016, the last time England won international men’s rugby’s leading age grade competition.
Sale’s England Rugby World Cup 2021 and Six Nations Grand Slam-winning back row and Morwenna Talling said: “Northern rugby matters so it’s amazing that Salford Stadium will be a host venue at the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup.
“North-west rugby is on the rise and we can’t wait to share that experience with you in two years’ time.”
YORK COMMUNITY STADIUM (8,510)
The newest of the venues for Rugby World Cup 2025, York Community Stadium opened in 2020, and has hosted pool phase and knockout matches in the 2021 Women’s Rugby League World Cup.
It is the home ground of York City football club, which plays in the National League.
Harlequins’ Yorkshire-born England star Ellie Kildunne, said: “We’re really excited to bring rugby to York Community Stadium in 2025. As a Yorkshire girl, I’m looking forward to international rugby coming to the county and helping the game grow in the region.”