There is no doubt about it: World Rugby wants to boost women’s participation. The international body has announced a new programme designed to develop women’s rugby in the run-up to the 2025 World Cup in England. Its name sums it up: Accelerate. According to a World Rugby press release, it is a new “targeted investment” approach, based on the signing of tailor-made partnerships between the international federation and national federations, governments and brands. Initially, Accelerate will focus on 20 federations capable of qualifying for the new 18-team, three-tier WXV competition and the 2025 World Cup. The programme “will help to develop and co-fund initiatives, competitions, new roles, resources and support structures for partner national federations.” It will also maintain and strengthen a specific focus on health and wellbeing issues relevant to women. In detail, World Rugby will use Accelerate to strengthen federations, with a clear plan to develop adult and youth women’s rugby; stimulate participation, create dynamic pathways and talent pools; improve the standard of national teams; and finally increase visibility, engagement and commercial revenues to support sustainability. A pilot project was launched in Australia. It has resulted in increased government and federation investment, part-time contracts for 35 international and elite national players, new parenting and pregnancy policies, the continuation of the elite Super W competition and the development of grassroots rugby.
— Published 26 April 2023