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RFU launches £12m initiative to grow women’s grassroots rugby

The programme will provide substantial improvements in facilities and greater opportunities for females at all levels (Image: Sport England)

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has launched its new Impact ’25 campaign, a “transformational legacy programme” that looks to create and improve opportunities for women and girls to get involved in rugby.

Impact ’25, which has already seen £12.13m of Government funding committed to the sport in England and the home unions up to the end of March 2025, will be delivered by the RFU in partnership with UK Government, Sport England and UK Sport.

The programme will provide substantial improvements in facilities and greater opportunities for females 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, and Community and Fan Engagement.

RFU Chief Executive, Bill Sweeney, said: “The opportunity to grow the women’s and girls’ 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 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 forward being made thanks to Impact ‘25 and look forward to seeing further progress over the coming months and years.”

To date, more than £3 million has been invested in 655 clubs nationwide with over 1,200 coaches and match officials supported with their development in order to increase the number, quality and visibility of female coaches and match officials in rugby.

A total of 342 clubs have each received funding to upgrade toilet facilities and 331 have been provided with sanitary packages, with 40 larger grants for clubs to develop social spaces and changing rooms, all aimed at making rugby clubs more welcoming and inclusive of female players. In addition, 348 clubs have received grants to start up U12s activity to bring more girls who have never been involved in the sport, into rugby clubs.

Stuart Andrew, Sports Minister added: “The UK is world-leading when it comes to hosting major sporting events, with the benefits of these events starting well before they kick off, and continuing long after they end.

“With the Women’s Rugby World Cup round the corner, this legacy programme is already impacting communities, and will continue to ensure greater opportunities for women and girls to play sport for many years to come. Impact ’25 will help with our target to get 3.5 million more children and adults active by 2030 and is on top of £400 million being invested by the Government in high-quality grassroots sports facilities around the UK.”

The aim of Impact ‘25 is to accelerate the growth of women’s rugby and help the RFU achieve its ambition of 100,000 female players by 2027. The women’s game in England is already flourishing from the grassroots level – the participation number for women and girls has risen to over 40,000 with over 800 clubs offering women’s and girls’ rugby.

Impact ‘25 funding began in the 2022-23 season and was awarded for four years until 2025-26. The funding is being utilised to increase access to rugby for women and girls, in line with the RFU’s Every Rose action plan and the tournament’s goal to reach new audiences and inspire a generation of fans.​ All home nations will benefit from funding to help develop female coaches and match officials.

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