The Rugby World Cup is set to fuel a big rise in people taking up the sport, according to a new report.
Participation rates are set to rise from 24 per cent in 2022 to 28 per cent by the end of the year. according to the Mastercard Future of Rugby report.
Pre-teens playing the sport now make up more than half of the global playing population - two thirds of whom are girls.
The report, led by academics at the University of Bath, forecasts a 10 per cent growth in global followers and fans of rugby by 2025.
To highlight the key drivers for this growth, Mastercard has assembled what it calles the “Future XV” - a team of inspiring individuals helping to shape the future of rugby for the next generation.
It includes former England player Shaunagh Brown, who is using her platform to help tackle inequalities in gender, ethnicity, and sexuality in the game.
Also in the team is Ayaz Bhuta MBE, a Paralympic gold medallist and current player for the Great Britain wheelchair rugby team.
Commenting on the report, lead author and rugby science specialist Professor Keith Stokes, said: “The report and the Future XV squad uncover extraordinary people and organisations working hard to create positive change at all levels of the game.
“On rugby’s 200th anniversary, now is the time to celebrate these innovators as well as all that rugby has achieved, but also to build on that to propel the sport forwards into the decades ahead. That means rugby continuing to innovate to attract more people into the sport, demonstrating its positive influence in society, and taking a lead on key issues.
“Guided by rugby’s core principles of solidarity and respect, we hope this report can act as a springboard that helps to drive lasting and impactful change, which in turn will help ensure rugby continues to be a force for good in the years ahead.”