Sally Horrox, World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby, on the growth of the 15s game through the launch of the WXV, and why rugby is leading a cultural shift in women’s sport.
Women’s rugby is poised for one of the biggest developments in the history of the 15s game when the global WXV tournament is launched on 13 October.
South Africa and Dubai play host on the opening weekend of the three-level tournament for 18 of the world’s best teams. New Zealand stages the start of the top-level competition the following week.
“WXV will be a truly global tournament,” Sally Horrox, World Rugby Chief of Women’s Rugby, said at the Capgemini Women in Rugby Leadership summit at the Campus Les Fontaines on Friday. “WXV allows us to take the game around the world more frequently, bringing more rugby for more fans, more visibility.
“We are going to New Zealand, South Africa and Dubai, and it’s an opportunity for 18 of the best teams in the world that qualify through a regional pathway.
“It allows unions in their regions a route through to the top, a route through to qualification for a World Cup.”
WXV provides, for the first time, a competitive springboard towards the expanded 16-team Rugby World Cup in 2025 in England.
The three-levels will consist of six teams playing in a cross-pool format over three weekends. At the end of WXV 2024 the five top-ranked non-qualified teams, at least, will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2025.
Horrox added: “We are trying to lift the game. All tides, all boats lift together and we are trying to give those greater opportunities for those 18 countries around the world.
“WXV is the annual tournament that gives us that visibility and allows our fans to watch those amazing players.
“It gives those players more competition and experience as there are not enough competition opportunities globally for our amazing women to play.”
Rugby ‘at the forefront’ of growth of women’s sport
Horrox believes WXV will help women’s rugby to continue as one of the main driving forces behind the growth of women’s sport on and off the field.
“This is a really exciting time for women’s sport,” she said. “Women’s sport is surpassing attendance records, performance records, participation records. Women’s rugby is at the forefront of that.
“We are part of a cultural shift for women. Women that want to be players, women that want to be coaches, officiate, fans, who want to be part of this global game for all.
“There were record-breaking numbers at last year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. We had a record crowd in the Women’s Six Nations for the England versus France game earlier this year.
“The whole value of women’s sport and women’s rugby is growing. We are at the heart of this global movement and the commercial value of the women’s game is forecast to grow by 10 times over the next decade.
“The women’s game is enhancing the reputation of the game. It’s changing people’s perceptions of the whole sport. One in five rugby fans coming to the game are new as a result of women’s rugby which is great for the whole game.
“We are predicting a doubling of fans by 2033 to 286 million. It’s a good news story on and off the pitch.”
WXV, rugby’s new international competition will be available to watch around the world in established and emerging rugby territories following the announcement of an extensive broadcast deal enabling fans all around the world to catch all the action. Click here to view the full broadcaster list. WXV ticket information is available here.