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International crowd records detail the dramatic rise in women's rugby

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Monday Jul 10, 2023

Women’s rugby is finally being given the respect and admiration that it deserves, with big sponsorship deals and broadcasting rights being introduced to the game like never before. Just a few years ago it was a purely amateur sport with very few having knowledge about the women’s game apart from those actively involved in the sport, but now judging by match attendances and viewing figures only, it’s a sport growing in dramatic fashion.

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Just last year we had the fortune of watching the World Cup as the very best countries in world rugby came together to perform in a tournament that will go down in history as one of the most exciting and entertaining since its inauguration in 1991. Hosted on many free-to-air television stations around the world, it became a sensation for many fans tuning into the women’s game for the first time.

This excitement surrounding the game was followed up just six months later at the Six Nations, as a record crowd for a women’s rugby match of 58,498, turned up to watch England complete their Grand Slam with a 38-33 win over France at Twickenham. Throughout the duration of the tournament, there were a recorded 450 million online content views – indicating a huge shift in attitudes and interest in the women’s game.

At the time, England Head Coach John Mitchell said: “The Red Roses have set an incredible standard and foundation for women’s rugby, being the most successful team in the Six Nations which is a tremendous achievement.

“We now have the opportunity to build on this, mature in key areas, and become a true champion side that can rightfully contest for the World Cup in 2025.

“I would like to honour the hugely supportive Red Roses fans with successful performances as we work towards winning and selling out Twickenham Stadium for the Rugby World Cup in 2025.”

Continuing the momentum of the women’s game is an important job for anyone involved in the sport, as the income from the likes of television deals, sponsorship, and ticket sales is a vital part of ensuring that the players get the correct equipment and salaries to ensure they can remain playing full time and continually improve the quality and skill levels within the sport.

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Just this weekend Canada broke their home attendance record with 10,092 fans showing up to support their side against world champions New Zealand.

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In a report shared by the Twitter account ‘ScrumQueens’, there is a clear correlation between crowd records and the rise of women’s rugby – with the majority of records being set within the past couple of years.

A very interesting point was made by Sports Broadcaster Stella Mills, a keen advocate for women’s rugby:

Despite the thrill of the game and the comradery gained from watching or playing it, rugby in general suffers from fewer viewership than many other sports. It’s never an easy fix, but the viewership growth being displayed in women’s rugby in particular is a fantastic indication of the potential the sport has as a whole.

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