500-day countdown to World Cup kickoff

500-day countdown to World Cup kickoff

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EXCITEMENT is building by the day as the countdown to Women’s Rugby World Cup England 2025 hit its latest milestone this week.

Monday heralded just 500 days until the global tournament kicks-off in Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Friday, August 22 next year.

Impact ’25 will be delivered by the RFU in partnership with the UK Government, Sport England and UK Sport and will see £12.13m committed to the women’s and girls’ grassroots game across the country.

The legacy programme will provide substantial improvements in facilities and greater opportunities for women 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, as well as Community and Fan Engagement.

Holders New Zealand, Canada, France and hosts England, have already qualified after finishing in the top four at the last Rugby World Cup, while the remaining 12 places will be filled via WXV and regional competitions this year.

It promises to be the biggest and best spectacle yet and Sally Horrox, chief of women’s rugby at World Rugby, cannot wait for the 10th edition of the pinnacle event to get underway.

“A home World Cup is incredibly exciting,” said Horrox, who was speaking at Exeter’s Sandy Park, one of eight venues set to be used for the tournament. “We all know they are avid rugby fans in New Zealand, but you saw with the last tournament the effect it had on people across the country.

Positive: Sally Horrox

“It can do exactly the same here – and by that I mean it can be hugely powerful and successful in so many different ways. The women’s game is really advancing and accelerating in terms of its growth across so many different fields, but we feel the impact next year’s tournament can have can really wake up the world to women’s rugby.”

John Mitchell’s all-powerful Red Roses will be among the favourites to lift the crown, alongside the Black Ferns, but Horrox believes the World Cup can help inspire a next generation of fans and youngsters alike to be part of the women’s global game.

“It’s really a part of, not just the RFU’s Impact plan, but also World Rugby’s plan to take this platform of the Rugby World Cup, together with the women involved, and get them not to just inspire local kids, but help push out the messages globally,” added Horrox.

“Already I know the teams are hugely engaged and wanting to work with us in the communities across the country, some of which are not necessarily regarded as renowned rugby hotbeds now, but can be both before and long after the tournament.”

As well as Sunderland and Exeter, the tournament will see fixtures staged in Brighton, Bristol, London, Manchester, Northampton and York.

“It’s a cliché, but build it and they will come,” said Horrox. “We’ve seen the huge excitement here today in Exeter and the passion the region has to put a great event on. It’s the same across the country. Take for example, Sarah Hunter, born and bred in the North East, so already you’ve got that local hero, someone who the people and the region know. There are many great reasons like that across the country to make this tournament an absolute spectacle.”

Horrox’s positivity has been echoed by RFU chief executive, Bill Sweeney, who added: “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 the 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.”

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