World Rugby announces governance reform to accelerate global development of women’s rugby

By Community | November 24, 2017

World Rugby has underscored its commitment to furthering gender equality at all levels of the organisation by announcing sweeping reform of its Council with an ambition of at least one-third women’s representation from next year.

In an historic decision spearheaded by Chairman Bill Beaumont, World Rugby will increase the number of people who may sit on Council – its highest decision-making body – from 32 to 49, with the 17 new representatives to be women.

The ground-breaking reform will give the 11 unions and six regional associations, who currently have an additional vote but no additional representative, the right to send an additional representative to Council subject to that person being female. This will not result in any changes to the existing voting rights of unions or regional associations on Council.

Approval of the proposal by Council at its recent meeting in London is a first and very important step in World Rugby’s wider strategy to accelerate women in rugby on and off the field of play and bring gender-balance to the highest levels of its governance.

Beaumont said: “This is a major milestone in the progression and growth of World Rugby and the global game. The reform is historic, reflective of our ambitions and long overdue. If we are to promote and nurture the growth of women in rugby then change must be led from the top.

“I would like to thank my Council colleagues for their full commitment to this important reform and I look forward to welcoming their new representatives from rugby and beyond so that together we can work to further rugby worldwide. It is clearly a fantastic start and opens the door to even greater female representation in Council and across rugby in the future.”

Driven by a record-breaking Women’s Rugby World Cup, rugby’s highly successful inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Programme and the thriving HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth with participation levels at an all-time high. Latest figures show more than 2.4 million women and girls are playing rugby at all levels, accounting for more than a quarter (26 per cent) of players globally, an increase in player numbers of 60 per cent since 2013.

In order to support that growth, promote greater parity at all levels across the sport and further strengthen and grow the game globally, the newly-approved strategic Women’s Plan has set out the following aims:

  • Drive inspirational leadership on and off the field
  • Grow sustainable participation
  • Build high performance through quality competition
  • Build an impactful profile, inspiring engagement
  • Grow strategic, sustainable investment partnerships