May 22, 2019 / 2:47 AM / a month ago

World Rugby target major growth for women's game

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Women's Six Nations Championship - England v Scotland - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - March 16, 2019 England's Jess Breach scores a try Action Images/Andrew Boyers

(Reuters) - World Rugby has launched a global marketing campaign aimed at bringing more women into the game as they continue their drive to make the sport more “equitable”.

The global governing body of rugby union said there were already 2.7 million women playing the game with a 28% increase since the start of a development plan that aimed to double the number of female players between 2017 and 2025.

The “Try and Stop Us” campaign, which dubs women players the “Unstoppables”, aims to build on that momentum.

“We firmly believe that the development of women in rugby is the single greatest opportunity for our sport to grow over the next decade,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont told Tuesday’s campaign launch in Dublin.

“Women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth around the world, participation levels are at an all-time high ... (with women) making up a quarter of the global playing population.”

World Rugby’s drive to make the game more equitable had also born fruit on the administrative front, Beaumont said, with an unprecedented 17 women taking their place in the World Rugby Council, which meets this week.

Men still make up the majority on the Council, the highest decision-making body in the game, while the 12-strong executive committee has one female member, South African businesswoman Wendy Luhabe who sits as an independent director.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Ian Ransom

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