World Rugby has published an ambitious player welfare driven participation plan which is focused on empowering its 128 member unions and six regions by increasing their capacity and capability to deliver participation growth for all forms of the sport around the globe.
Participation, alongside competition and engagement, is one of the three core pillars of World Rugby’s strategic plan – ‘A Global Sport for All – True to its Values’ – which was launched in April with a key aim to advance the growth of the sport through to 2025.
Rugby is a global sport, seeing strong upward trends in participation and gender equality over the last decade with more women and girls being encouraged into the game than ever before. Yet more remains to be done for the sport to come up to ranks like football and basketball in places like Africa.
While the effects of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic continue to impact all sports, World Rugby’s participation plan aims to implement the foundations of long term, sustainable growth. This will be achieved by supporting unions to increase their capability to promote participation through reaching new recruits but also through the retention of existing players.
With uniting the rugby family at heart, the plan sets out how the sport will attract new participants and welcome back players following the global pandemic through a commitment to make it as safe, accessible, attractive and enjoyable as possible for all.
World Rugby is investing £570 million in the development of the sport between 2020-2023, including support for unions and regions for the development of the game. This will be further enhanced through the provision of a greater range of services to better enable them to grow the game around the world.
Player welfare is at the heart of World Rugby’s strategic plan and the recently launched mission to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare underpins the participation plan. In line with the core ‘welfare focused law amendments’ pillar of the welfare strategy, the participation plan is currently driving feasibility of adapted laws for the community game via a Community Laws Framework. In addition work has also begun reviewing of the game’s non-contact rugby variants, to offer a wider set of options for unions to adopt to attract new participants and welcome back those who may want to play contact rugby.
Long term outcomes will focus on creating stronger unions and regions, as measured by a new Union Development toolkit and an ambition to increase the total global playing population to over 10 million, and those playing regularly in active teams to over 6m by 2025.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “The unions and regions are the lifeblood of the sport and our participation plan is rightly focused on strengthening and empowering our members to increase their capacity and capability to grow the game around the globe, reaching out to both existing and potential new participants.
“While recognising the challenges facing sport and wider society as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan sets out World Rugby’s long-term mission to grow participation across all forms of the game. The plan incorporates the ambition to continue to build a stronger, safer game that remains accessible to all.
“Participation is one of three core pillars in our new strategic plan, alongside competition and engagement, and is ultimately the reason we exist as an organisation. Our resolute focus on player welfare transcends all of our strategic planning and underpins this new participation plan. The future for rugby is bright and this plan aims to capitalise on the opportunity to further globalise and grow the game we love.”